Israel’s Deportation Policy of African Migrants: Internal and External Aspects


Luiza Khlebnikova


In 2016 Prime Minister of Israel Benyamin Netanyahu declared its comeback to Africa and Africa’s return to the Jewish state. The key reason for a new Israeli-African cooperation (especially between Israel and East African countries) seems to be an intent to regulate crisis with illegal immigrants from Africa in Israel. The author examines the drivers of the big inflow of African asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan trying to find ‘safe heaven’ in the Jewish State. Netanyahu prefers to treat these African asylum seekers as economic migrants. He often stresses that Israel is too small to accept everyone who is afflicted. In the Israeli society negative sentiments towards African asylum seekers are generally prevailing. However, there are some grassroots initiatives aimed at protecting Africans and their rights. Opposition parties, Zionist Union and Meretz, are not united and have not succeeded in challenging the government’s course. The main goal of this research is to evaluate the Israeli government’s approaches, including deportation of immigrants to ‘third countries’ like Rwanda and Uganda, aimed at resolving the crisis. The deportation of African asylum seekers provoked some new debates about rights of socially vulnerable groups in Israel and, moreover, its democratic character. The critique of the Netanyahu’s policies spread well beyond the borders of the State of Israel. The United Nations tried to resolve the crisis by offering a deal that would relocate Africans from Israel to different countries, but the head of the Jewish state, first agreed to sign it, but later changed his mind. Special attention is paid to the role of the American Jewish organizations in stopping the deportation of Africans from Israel. The American liberal progressive groups, for example J street, have been openly protesting against Netanyahu’s policies. The conclusion is drawn that the way out of the crisis lays in elaborating a long-term comprehensive migration strategy.


Israel, refugees, migration, deportation, Africa, Rwanda, Uganda, J street, Jewish diaspora




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