On January 1st 2018, The Israeli Population and immigration Authority published a policy announcement offering asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea a choice between one of two options:  either departure or incarceration.

 

According to the published information, those who leave by the end of March 2018 will be given a $3,500 “grant” in addition to airfare. Those who remain after that date will be subject to “enforcement actions” at the end of a specified time period.

An additional document, specifies that asylum seekers and refugees from Sudan and Eritrea (excluding women, children, parents of dependent children and the victims of slavery/forced labor/sex trade) who come to renew their temporary residence permits, starting Feb 2nd 2018, will be informed that they have 60 days to leave Israel, either to their home country or to one of two African “third countries” (Most probably Rwanda and Uganda even though the official sources did not explicit yet this information). While the document states that they can appeal this decision, it also states that the appeal process will not be allowed to delay the asylum seeker’s departure beyond the original 60 days, unless his appeal is accepted. Those who remain in Israel beyond the 60 days will be incarcerated.

Asylum seekers who do not seek permit renewal before it expires, or those already incarcerated, will be brought before the border authorities to be presented with the same choice between deportation and incarceration, with the possibility to present their arguments, but without mention of a delay period. While there is no specific mention in the document of the potential duration of incarceration, it seems to imply that there will be an ongoing attempt to convince the asylum seeker to leave “voluntarily”.

The announcement also specifies that after March 2018 the proposed grant will be decreased, and that “enforcement actions” will also be taken against those employing the asylum seekers.

Target population: The “Voluntary Return grant” page (which predates the Jan 1st announcement) includes in its target population asylum seekers, refugees or undocumented migrants from “Eritrea, Sudan, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Guinea Conakry and any country in Africa with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations”. While the detailed program published on Jan 1st 2018 specifies that the initial target population is those Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers who have not submitted an asylum request prior to Jan 1st 2018, it then adds that “the population and immigration authority will consider enlarging the population planned for deportation to third countries, including those whose request for asylum is still in process”.