>> Deal and then no deal. Israel's Netanyahu backtracks on relocation plan for African migrants. I'm Jeffrey Heller, Reuters' editor in charge in Jerusalem.>>
> It's a good agreement. I'm very glad that we achieved it.>> First, a TV appearance by the Israeli prime minister, announcing an agreement with the UN on relocating thousands of African migrants to countries in the west.
The catch, nearly half of the estimated 37,000 migrants now in Israel will allowed to stay. The result a public outcry from the Netanyahu's right wing political allies and from residents of a poor Tel Aviv neighborhood where many of the Africans live. Facing that kind of opposition, Netanyahu folds, announcing he's suspending the deal.
And hours later, he declares the agreement dead. All of that has left African migrants in Israel even deeper in Limbo. They've been holding protests outside Netanyahu's office and a government complex where he met with Tel Aviv residents seeking the Africans' expulsion. Some of the demonstrators wrapped themselves in chains, putting their sense of powerlessness on display.
But as far as the migrant community is concerned, the current uncertainty might still be better than Netanyahu's original plan. Frozen by Israel's Supreme Court in March, to deport the migrants, who are mainly from Eritrea and Sudan, to Rwanda. For Netanyahu, it's one big mess, a dispute that has pitted him against his voter power base.
Right wing Israelis who like Netanyahu describe the Africans as infiltrators because they entered Israel illegally by walking across a desert border with Egypt. And now, it's forcing Netanyahu to an embarrassing about face, highlighting political weaknesses just when he's under police investigation for suspected corruption. Those cases could jeopardize his political survival.