November 19, 2018

Netanyahu Nixes U.N. Agreement on Refugees After Initially Supporting It

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on April 2 that he would be supporting an agreement with the United Nations on resettling African refugees, only to rescind his support hours later.

The agreement would have resettled 16,250 refugees to various Western countries like Canada and Germany while thousands of others would be allowed to temporarily stay in Israel so long as they are moved out of Tel Aviv. Netanyahu at first hailed the agreement as the best possible solution, but after meeting with activists opposed to the agreement, Netanyahu flipped.

“Despite the mounting legal and international limitations, we will continue to act with determination to exhaust all of the options at our disposal for expelling the infiltrators,” Netanyahu said on April 3.

Before Netanyahu initially agreed to the U.N. agreement, Israel’s solution to the 38,000 refugees from Sudan and Eritrea who had entered the country illegally was to offer them $3,500 deport them to what was believed to be Rwanda or Uganda or to their country of origin. Israel’s Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on this policy, putting deportations on pause indefinitely.

In a April 2 Facebook post, Netanyahu wrote that Rwanda was pressured by the European Union and the George Soros-funded nonprofit New Israel Fund to not accept Israel’s proposed solution.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) spokesman William Spindler told Agence France-Presse (AFP), “We continue to believe in the need for a win-win agreement that can benefit Israel, the international community and people needing asylum and we hope that Israel will reconsider its decision soon.”

The U.N. agreement did not seem to be popular among Israelis, as 47% said they disapproved of it while only 34% approved of it in a poll by Israel’s Channel 10.

As Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick has explained, the refugee issue stemmed from an influx of migrants pouring through an open border that Israel shared with Egypt 2007-2011. Israel began constructing a fence to seal off the border in 2012 and it was completed in 2013, causing the number of African migrants entering the country to decline to the point where none entered in 2017.

However, the spike in migrants caused crime to increase in Tel Aviv, Glick argued.

“Sexual offenses in neighborhoods with high percentages of African migrants were 3.5 times higher than in their rates in the general population,” Glick wrote. “Violent crime was 2.5 times higher. Robberies occurred six times more often.”

Glick added, “A survey of area residents taken by the Israeli police in 2015 showed that only 38 percent felt secure outside their homes after dark. Only 43 percent felt safe in their homes after dark.”