NEW YORK Israel is planning to get rid of foreign workers on the ground that their presence threatens the countrys Zionist ideology, according to a dispatch in a leading American newspaper. Saying foreign workers are diluting the Jewish state is racism, Nitzan Horowitz, a member of the Israeli Parliament and a critic of the foreign-worker policy, was quoted as saying by the newspaper. On one hand, Israel is bringing them here and making money off their backs, and on other they face all sorts of harassment. At least 250,000 foreign labourers are living in the country, according to the Israeli government. They include Chinese construction workers, Filipino home health care aides and Thai farmhands, as well as other Asians, and Africans and Eastern Europeans, working as maids, cooks and nannies. But even as foreign workers have become a mainstay of the economy, their presence has increasingly clashed with Israels Zionist ideology, causing growing political unease over the future of the Jewish state and their place in it, the Times said in a dispatch from Jerusalem. The govt has lurched through a series of contradictory policies that encourage the temporary employment of migrants while seeking to impose tight visa and labour restrictions that can leave them vulnerable to abusive employers, advocates for the workers say. Those who overstay their visas and try to remain in Israel live in fear of the Oz Unit, a recently created division of immigration police officers who hunt down illegal migrants and assist in their deportation, the Times said. The government insists it wants unskilled jobs to go to unemployed Israelis. Critics say the policies are hypocritical and racist because they treat foreign workers as undeserving of legal protection. All too often we have to fight to make Israelis see that these foreign workers are human beings, Dana Shaked, the coordinator for Chinese labourers at Kav Laoved, a workers rights group, was quoted as saying. Although the Israeli government issued a record 120,000 foreign work permits in 2009, the countrys political leaders say they want to phase out migrant labour. We have created a Jewish and democratic nation, and we cannot let it turn into a nation of foreign workers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a conference of the Israel Manufacturers Association in January. The No 1 target is the Chinese, who in recent years have received nearly all of the construction work permits, the Times said. Chinese accounted for a quarter of all deportations from 2003 to 2008, more than any other foreign group. The rate was expected to soar as 3,000 of those permits lapsed at the end of June. The Chinese end up in the most desperate straits here partly because they are recruited through a murky network of manpower companies that rights groups say operate like human trafficking rings, according to the dispatch. Chinese pay up to $31,000 in illegal recruitment fees, the highest fees of all foreign workers, according to Kav Laoved, which says the money ends up in the pockets of go-betweens and government agencies in both countries. Yang Jianchu, the Chinese consul for immigration affairs, says his staff does all it can to help those in trouble. He also dismissed accusations by worker advocates that the Chinese government profits from the exorbitant recruitment fees. We dont know where the money goes, Mr. Yang said. This is the truth.