The Ugandan government denied on Friday that it would accept African migrants deported from Israel after Israeli officials said they would soon send these people back to the African continent via Uganda.
"We're not aware of any such deal. There's no way Uganda would enter such an arrangement," Foreign Ministry spokesman Elly Kamahungye said.
Kamahungye was responding to Israeli reports that Uganda had agreed to absorb thousands of migrants residing illegally in Israel but agreeing to leave.
Regardless of the identity of the third state, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein said he was convinced that there is no legal impediment to the government following through with the agreed upon guidelines determined by Israeli envoy Hagai Hadas, tasked with secret contacts with an African country to take in economic migrants from Israel.
Weinstein consented to the agreement after confirming that the third state was a party to the International Convention on the Status of Refugees, has an adequate asylum system to protect the relevant members of the population, and upholds the standards of the UN Commission for Refugees.
A spokesperson for the Justice Ministry clarified that "at this time, the State of Israel is not forcibly deporting migrants from Sudan and Eritrea. Their return to their countries is purely voluntary and when done under state custody, is carried out in accordance with the procedure approved by the attorney-general."
Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar touched on the agreement with a third state yesterday at a toast in honor of Rosh Hashana with Likud activists in Tel Aviv, saying, "We are dealing with the migrant phenomenon responsibly and without resorting to militancy. The government stopped the influx of the infiltrators who have been coming in droves to Israel, and now we must move forward with the deportation of these illegal infiltrators from the state of Israel -- and we are doing so. It is difficult and complicated, and no one thinks it is possible to solve this issue in a matter of weeks or months."
The minister emphasized that "they are not refugees. Every request for the recognition of refugee status is brought before me, and the majority of migrants have not put forward such requests. This is economic migration. We are committed to proceeding according to the law, but we are also committed to maintaining the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state -- and we will do so."