From CNN, Jan. 5:
Television evangelist Pat Robertson suggested Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s stroke was divine retribution for the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, which Robertson opposed.
“He was dividing God’s land, and I would say, ‘Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the [European Union], the United Nations or the United States of America,'” Robertson told viewers of his long-running television show, “The 700 Club.”
“God says, ‘This land belongs to me, and you’d better leave it alone,'” he said.
Robertson’s show airs on the ABC Family cable network and claims about 1 million viewers daily.
Sharon, 77, clung to life in a Jerusalem hospital Thursday after surgery to treat a severe stroke, his doctors said.
The prime minister, who withdrew Israeli settlers and troops from Gaza and parts of the West Bank last summer over heated objections from his own Likud Party, was breathing with the aid of a ventilator after doctors operated to stop the bleeding in his brain.
In Washington, President Bush offered praise for Sharon in a speech on Thursday.
“We pray for his recovery,” Bush said. “He’s a good man, a strong man. A man who cared deeply about the security of the Israeli people, and a man who had a vision for peace. May God bless him.”
Daniel Ayalon, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, compared Robertson’s remarks to the overheated rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
He called the comments “outrageous” and said they were not something to expect “from any of our friends.”
“He is a great friend of Israel and a great friend of Prime Minister Sharon himself, so I am very surprised,” Ayalon told CNN.