Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said it has reached an "unprecedented understanding" with the United Nations refugee agency in which Israel will send more than 16,000 migrants to various Western countries willing to absorb them.
The announcement comes a day before the deadline imposed by the Israeli government in January, giving some 38,000 undocumented African migrants the choice between indefinite imprisonment with eventual forced expulsion, or a $3,500 payment and a plane ticket back to their home countries or to Rwanda and Uganda - with which Israel struck deals in 2017 and 2013 to accept migrants in exchange for modest sums of money.
It said it would "facilitate the departure to third countries to be determined of some 16,000 Eritreans and Sudanese under various programmes, including sponsorship, resettlement, family reunion and labour migration schemes, while others will be receiving a suitable legal status in Israel".
Israel scrapped its plan to deport tens of thousands of migrants back to Africa, after mass demonstrations against the policy in the streets of Tel Aviv and criticism from overseas.
In the post ― in which the prime minister refers to the African migrants as "infiltrators", a term Israeli public officials have commonly used for undocumented immigrants ― Netanyahu said he would meet with Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and representatives of the Israeli residents of southern Tel Aviv before reconsidering the deal.
Numerous migrants say they came to Israel to seek asylum after fleeing persecution, conflict, and in the case of Eritreans, forced, lifelong conscription to its army, but Israeli authorities regard them as economic migrants.
They had initially been given a deadline of April 1, but Israel's supreme court suspended the plan on March 15 while it continued to examine it.
The Africans, almost all from dictatorial Eritrea and war-torn Sudan, say they fled for their lives and faced renewed danger if they returned.
Israel will deport 16,000 refugees to West, while grant 16,000 temporary residency status.
The earlier plans had drawn sharp criticism from the United Nations refugee agency as well as from some Israelis and rights activists.
Migrants began entering Israel through what was then a porous Egyptian border in 2007.
Netanyahu said on social media that Rwanda had in the past few weeks folded to huge pressure and backed out of the deal it had made with Israel to accept expelled migrants, prompting him to seek the new arrangement with the UNHCR.
Most arrived in Israel in the second half of the last decade, crossing from Egypt before the route was sealed. But the others would stay in Israel. It further argued that no one who has been approved for asylum would be deported, but Israel has only approved a handful of asylum claims in recent years.
Those opposed to the original plan included Holocaust survivors who say the country has a special duty to protect migrants.