(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, known as one of the more hard-line ministers in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, was booed and heckled as he gave an antagonistic speech to a left-leaning audience at a peace conference held by Israeli daily Ha'aretz on Thursday.
"You have failed," Levin told the crowd. "You are refusing to accept reality...you are afraid of the real problems," he said, in comments directed at the peace camp.
Levin spoke against the two-state solution, suggesting that Israel has no partner for peace, as the crowd of approximately 500 people booed him.
"Let's look at the myth, territory for peace? Those who truly believe in peace, won't agree to this," he said. "A solution for the territorial conflict must be peace for peace as a mutual basis for any agreement, anything else is a lie," he said.
Levin also took aim at the view that Israel is an occupying power in the West Bank.
"Another myth, occupation, a nation can't be an occupier on its own land, the Land of Israel is the land of the people of Israel," he said defiantly to more boos.
Levin said that the path to peace was "from outside in," meaning Israel should first reach out to moderate Muslim nations who share common interests with Israel, rather than try to bilaterally negotiate with the Palestinians.
He said Israel should build bridges with the Gulf states and African states, where there are joint economic interests and encourage Muslim tourism in Israel and Israeli tourism in Muslim states.
"If we build ties with the larger Muslim world, think of how that would influence the peace process," Levin urged the crowd, who booed him as he finished his speech and walked off the stage.
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