From the New York Times:
Netanyahu’s Reversal on Migrants Shows Influence of Hard-Line AlliesUsually if you read to the very end of an NYT article, you’ll get an explanation of what is really going on. But the reality remains kind of unspeakable here.
By ISABEL KERSHNER APRIL 3, 2018
JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has backed down under pressure before, but rarely in such a spectacular fashion as he did on Tuesday when he reneged on a deal with the United Nations to resettle thousands of African asylum seekers in Western countries.
Mr. Netanyahu announced the deal to great fanfare on Monday, only to suspend it a few hours later. On Tuesday, he canceled it completely and defended his abrupt reversal, saying he was responding to an outcry from members of his conservative Likud party as well as partners in his governing coalition who routinely refer to the migrants as “infiltrators” and want all of them expelled.
But the capitulation dented Mr. Netanyahu’s image as a master political player….
As has often happened in the past, Mr. Netanyahu changed direction in the wake of harsh criticism from Naftali Bennett, the education minister and leader the Jewish Home party. While the far-right Jewish Home is in Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition, it also competes with his Likud party for votes.
Bezalel Smotrich, a Jewish Home legislator, said in a radio interview on Tuesday that he would be willing to topple the government over the migrant issue.
“We want the state of Israel to remain a Jewish state,” he said. “And this means sticking to the right migration policy.”
Mr. Netanyahu said he had made the deal with the United Nations high commissioner for refugees because it seemed the only way to reduce the population of African migrants in Israel, who number at least 35,000. The migrants, mostly Eritreans and Sudanese who surreptitiously crossed the border from Egypt before it was sealed in 2012, cannot be returned to their own countries under international conventions for fear of persecution.
The deal with the United Nations refugee agency was meant to replace a contentious Israeli plan to forcibly deport the migrants to Rwanda. …
Mr. Netanyahu first trumpeted the deal on Monday in a live television broadcast, saying it was an extraordinary plan to resettle nearly half of Israel’s African asylum seekers in Western countries. An equal number would have been granted legal status to stay in Israel.
Netanyahu figured that unloading 16,000 of Israel’s 35,000 African immigrants onto to goyishe kopf white gentile countries would be a masterstroke. But Bibi’s rightwing frenemies objected that it would be a concession that Israel couldn’t unload the other 19000 back to their native continent on the grounds that it would be inhuman to return Africans to Africa, a precedent that could well destroy the Jewish State over the rest of this century.