Speaking on public radio this Sunday, the National Union party's Benny Elon also called on fundamentalist Christian groups to bolster Israel by pushing the nation's "biblical" rights to land.

"It would be better that these people are converted to Christianity which is based on the Bible and recognises our rights" to the holy land.

Just one condition

The tourism minister added that Israel would welcome evangelists in their effort to "spread the good word" in Israel - on condition that they do not seek to convert Jews.

Elon, who is also a rabbi, said he supported conversion attempts as a way of dealing with "extremist Muslims such as terrorists who cry Allahu Akbar (God is greater) as they kill".

"In the past I believed that Islam was much closer to Judaism than Christianity but I have changed my opinion." 

Elon stressed that he was expressing his own point of view and was not speaking on behalf of the government.

Many fundamentalist Christians have formed a theological alliance with Jewish Zionists - whom they accuse of murdering Jesus - in the belief that the ingathering of Jews into Palestine will hasten the second coming of Christ.