African migrants who are in Israel faced deportation since last year after the government announced a resettlement plan.

The new deal would have forced thousands of African migrants, mostly from Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea out of Israel.

Those who refused to leave would have been thrown into jail. But the Isreali government has suspended implementation of reforms.

The suspension came just hours after his office announced the agreement with United Nations UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

“I’ve decided to suspend implementation of this accord and to rethink the terms of the accord,” Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page, saying his move is in response to criticism of the deal.

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Israel had announced a deal with the UNHCR to cancel a controversial plan to deport African migrants and replace it with one that would see thousands sent to Western countries.

The new accord would at the same time allow thousands more of the migrants to remain in Israel at least temporarily.

The migrants have become a political issue, with religious and conservative politicians portraying the presence of Muslim and Christian Africans as a threat to Israel’s Jewish character.

A group of residents of southern Tel Aviv, where many of the migrants have settled, immediately denounced the new plan in a statement, calling it “a shame for the state of Israel”.

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