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HIAS Lauds Israel’s Decision to Cancel Deportation for Asylum Seekers

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TEL AVIV, Israel—Today, the Government of Israel announced it would cancel its plan to deport tens of thousands of African asylum seekers. Instead, Israel said that it will partner with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to resettle more than 16,000 mainly Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers to safe Western countries, and grant some form of temporary status to an equal number who would remain in Israel. The plan will reportedly take five years to implement.

In response to the announcement, HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield issued the following statement:

“HIAS commends the Israeli government for making a responsible and legal choice that is consistent with Jewish values. Since the deportation plan was first announced, HIAS and our partners in the United States, Israel, and around the world, have been urging Israel to fulfill its responsibility under the international refugee rights framework developed in the wake of the Holocaust.

“Today, we welcome the news that Israel and other countries will share responsibility to find durable solutions for the asylum seekers within Israel. We look forward to working with Israel and resettlement countries to ensure that those refugees who remain in Israel, as well as those who are resettled, can start new lives in safety and in freedom. The timing of this announcement, during Passover, could not have been more appropriate as these asylum seekers, like our ancestors, all crossed the Sinai in search of freedom.”

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Israel