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Netanyahu Defends Deportation Of Africans — Insists They Aren’t Refugees

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that Israeli will deport what he called illegal migrants who came to Israel to find work.

“We are not acting against refugees. We are acting against illegal migrants who come here not as refugees but for work needs. Israel will continue to offer asylum for genuine refugees and will remove illegal migrants from its midst,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu stressed that Israel has made arrangements with a third country that “assures the personal security of those who leave here.”

“They receive permits for housing, work and the chance to integrate into the country,” he also said. While both Uganda and Rwanda are reported to be the third countries, they have denied such an agreement.

The Population and Immigration Authority in Israel notified migrants from Sudan and Eritrea that as of Jan. 1 they must return to their own countries, or to the third nation – reported to be either Rwanda or Uganda – or be jailed until they are deported. Migrants who chose to leave by March 31 will receive a payment of $3,500 as well as free airfare and other incentives.

Israel has already deported 20,000 of the some 60,000 African migrants who entered Israel prior to the construction of a barrier on its southern border with the Sinai.

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