The Israeli government on Thursday said there was a “high probability” an unnamed country, widely reported to be Uganda, would absorb African migrants deported from Israel.
In a document submitted to the High Court of Justice, the state requested permission to extend the detention of 212 Sudanese and Eritrean migrants in a holding facility in southern Israel until a final deportation deal was reached.
After dispatching a special envoy on Wednesday for negotiations with the unnamed country, the state argued the talks were encouraging but said more time was needed to clinch a final agreement.
The attorney general has been updated on the “high probability” of an imminent deal, it said.
However, the Ugandan president’s office told the Israeli Haaretz daily later Thursday that it knew of no deal and was not prepared to accept any asylum seekers being deported from Israel against their will.
The state’s assessment was laid out in a response to a High Court petition filed on behalf of a slew of human rights organizations that argued that the continued imprisonment of the asylum seekers was illegal.
On Wednesday, 58 African asylum seekers were freed from the Saharonim Prison after a controversial plan to deport them to Rwanda fell apart.
The state informed the court on Wednesday it will free the remaining Saharonim detainees if the agreement with the “second country” similarly collapses. That deal was also believed to be imperiled as Uganda said Tuesday it will not accept asylum seekers from the Jewish state.
Following a stream of rumors, the East African country’s Foreign Affairs Minister Henry Okello Oryem on Tuesday denied the existence of an agreement with Israel on the issue.