Israel announced a deal with the U.N. on Monday to resettle African migrants in Western nations, but hours later put the agreement on hold.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had announced the deal on national TV, saying Israel agreed to cancel the planned expulsion of tens of thousands of African migrants. He said the deal with the United Nations called for sending half of them to Western nations and allowing the rest to remain in Israel.
Late Monday, Netanyahu said he was “suspending” the deal in order to discuss the arrangement Tuesday with Israeli residents of south Tel Aviv areas with large migrant populations.
“After meeting with the representatives, I will re-examine the agreement again,” he said.
Under the deal, roughly half of the 35,000 migrants living in Israel would be resettled in the West. But the rest would stay in Israel.
The migrant community is concentrated in south Tel Aviv, angering longtime Israeli residents of the working-class area. Israeli hard-liners had criticized the deal for allowing so many Africans to remain.
The late-night turnaround threw into limbo the surprise agreement, which had finally offered a solution to an issue that has divided Israel for a decade. The deportation plan had been widely criticized at home and abroad, even by some of Israel’s closest supporters.
“It’s a good agreement,” Netanyahu told reporters earlier in the day. “It enables us to solve this problem in a way that serves, protects the interests of…