White House Denounces Robertson's Remarks on Sharon

By Daniela Deane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 6, 2006; 2:54 PM

The White House today criticized television evangelist Pat Robertson's remarks that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's severe illness was deserved, calling the comments "wholly inappropriate and offensive."

White House press spokesman Trent Duffy made the comment to reporters traveling on Air Force One with President Bush this morning. He added that Robertson's comments "don't have a place in this or any other debate."

Duffy also told reporters the president is praying for Sharon's full recovery.

The Israeli prime minister, 77, is in a medically induced coma in a Jerusalem hospital after suffering a massive stroke Wednesday. He is in critical condition.

Speaking on his Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club," Robertson said yesterday that God was punishing Sharon for dividing the land of Israel.

"Sharon was personally a very likable person, and I am sad to see him in this condition, but I think we need to look at the Bible and the Book of Joel. The prophet Joel makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who 'divide my land,' " Robertson said.

Sharon was "dividing God's land, and I would say: Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the E.U. [European Union], the United Nations or the United States of America," the 75-year-old Baptist minister said.

Robertson, who ran for president in 1988, has a history of controversial statements. In August, he called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, then denied the remark, and a day later, apologized for it.

Staff writer Alan Cooperman contributed to this report.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company