Ethiopians who come to Israel often complain of not being able to find good jobs and experiencing discrimination.
Israel's interior minister faces accusations of racism after he suggested suspending the policy of allowing Ethiopians with Jewish ancestry to move to the country.
While rabbinical authorities judge the so-called Falash Mura to be sufficiently Jewish to qualify for Israeli citizenship, Meir Sheetrit said they were not really Jewish and had been let in only because of "political correctness".
Meir Sheetrit: not really Jewish
In remarks that incensed the large Falasha community already in Israel, he implied that Ethiopians were fleecing the state by leaving the economic hardship of their birthplace and enjoying comfortable new lives in Israel.
"Who needs them?" he said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. "They are all Christians. We need to take care of the future of Israel and this immigration will never finish."
His comments were denounced as racist by senior members of the Falasha community who pointed out that Jews from white countries were allowed into Israel without any question from the authorities.
"The way he is expressing himself has a smell of racism about it because he would not say such statements to any other immigrants from America or Russia," said Avraham Neguise, chairman of the Representatives of Ethiopian Immigrant Organisations in Israel.