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U.S. evangelist: PM's stroke result of God's 'enmity' for Gaza pullout
Conservative Christian evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson on Thursday linked Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke to God's "enmity against those who 'divide my land.'"
Sharon who is fighting for his life on a respirator after suffering a severe stroke and cerebral hemorrhage.
"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 EU, the United Nations, or the United States of America," Robertson said on his television program, "The 700 Club," broadcast from his Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia Beach. "God says, 'This land belongs to me. You better leave it alone.'"
Last year, Sharon, a longtime hawk and supporter of Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, changed tack and withdrew from the Gaza Strip and some settlements in the West Bank, as the best hope for achieving a peace deal with the Palestinians.
The unilateral Israeli pullout was supported by the European Union, the United Nations, and the United States. But it was strongly opposed by many members of Sharon's right-wing Likud party, prompting the Israeli leader to quit and form a new centrist party.
Some U.S. evangelical Christians also opposed the Israeli withdrawal from lands that they believe constitute the biblical land of Israel and link to prophecies foretelling the second coming of Christ.
Robertson said he had personally prayed about a year ago with Sharon, whom he called "a very tender-hearted man and a good friend." He said he was sad to see Sharon in this condition.
Robertson also said that in the Bible, the prophet Joel "makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who 'divide my land.'"
"God considers this land to be his," Robertson said. "You read the Bible and he says 'This is my land,' and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says 'no, this is mine.'"
Robertson spokeswoman Angell Watts did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.
CAIRO, January7 , 2006 (IslamOnline.net) – Leading American evangelist and broadcaster Pat Robertson came under fire Saturday, January6 , for saying Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine retribution for withdrawing troops from the Gaza Strip and a part the West Bank.
"I'm appalled that Pat Robertson would make such statements. He ought to know better," Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest US Protestant denomination, told the Los Angeles Times.
"The arrogance of the statement shocks me almost as much as the insensitivity of it," he added.
Robertson, who urged followers to vote for President George W. Bush in the2004 election, unleashed one of his trademark furors with the comments on his " 700Club" show on Thursday, January5 .
As the Israeli prime minister battled for life, he suggested Sharon was being punished by God for his policies in Gaza and the West Bank.
"The prophet Joel makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who, quote, 'divide my land.' God considers this land to be his.
"You read the Bible, he says, 'This is my land.' And for any prime minister of Israel who decides he's going carve it up and give it away, God says, 'No. This is mine.'"
Robertson claimed Sharon was "dividing God's land".
"I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU, the United Nations or the United States of America."
Israeli occupation forces pulled out from the impoverished Gaza Strip in September after 38 years of military occupation.
The White House on Friday, January6 , lashed out at Robertson's Sharon remarks.
"I think those comments were wholly inappropriate and offensive, and really don't have a place in this or any other debate," Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman, told reporters.
Bush on Thursday hailed Sharon as a strong man who "had a vision for peace."
"Our nation sends their deepest sympathy to Ariel Sharon," he said at the US State Department before a speech on promoting languages.
"We pray for his recovery…May god bless him."
The Sharon remarks also drew immediate condemnation from Israel's ambassador to the United States and the US Anti-Defamation League.
Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition and a presidential candidate in 1988 , called in August for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for allegedly intending to become "the launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."
In November, the televangelist warned the town of Dover, Pa., that it risked God's wrath because voters had recalled conservative school board members who favored teaching "intelligent design," whose proponents believe organisms are too complex to have developed independently.
The popular US televangelist is also infamous for his repeated anti-Islam remarks.