Robertson loves Sharon because of Rollercoasters
Robertson tries to save Jesusland after Sharon gibe
By Simon Freeman and agencies
Pat Robertson (Robert Giroux/Reuters)
Pat Robertson, the American televangelist, today appeared to withdraw a diatribe against Ariel Sharon in an attempt to salvage his $50 million plan for a biblical theme park in Galilee.
Ministers in Jerusalem were furious after the millionaire preacher suggested that the Israeli Prime Minister suffered a stroke in divine retribution for carving up the Holy Land in withdrawing from Gaza.
The future of the project, nicknamed Jesusland and criticised by some for commercialism in an area of undeveloped rolling hills, is now hanging in the balance.
Mr Robertson released a statement saying that he was merely pointing out the Old Testament perspective on the division of Israel.
Avi Hartuv, a spokesman for Israelís tourism minister, said: "We canít accept this kind of statement. We will not do business with him."
Mr Robertson is leading a consortium of evangelicals who have pledged to raise $50 million (£28 million) to build the Christian Heritage Centre in northern Galilee.
The religious group was to put up the funding, while Israel would lease the land at no cost. The attraction was expected to draw one million pilgrims annually and bring in $1.5 million (£850 million).
The theme park was to be built in 35 acres around key Christian sites such as the Mount of the Beatitudes where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, and Capernaum which was described as the town of Jesus in the Bible.
There were plans for food outlets at Tabgha on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, the scene of the feeding of the 5,000.
However, the potentially lucrative agreement has been thrown into doubt following comments made by Mr Robertson on his 700 Club programme a day after Mr Sharon suffered a severe stroke.
"God considers this land to be his," Robertson said. "You read the Bible and he says íThis is my land,í and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, íNo, this is mine."í
Mr Hartuv left the door open to continuing the project but only with evangelists who disown Mr Robertsonís statements.
"The contract is still open - just not with Mr Robertson. If there are other Christian leaders, they are most welcome to sign a contract to bring Christian tourists to the State of Israel.
"We want to see who in the group supports his (Robertsonís) statements. Those who support the statements cannot do business with us. Those that publicly support Ariel Sharonís recovery are welcome to do business with us. We have to check this very, very carefully."
In a statement published on his website, Mr Robertson appeared to withdraw his comments as the scale of the backlash threatened to harm the venture.
Angell Watts, a spokeswoman for the preacher, wrote: "Robertson has met with Sharon at significant times and considers him a friend. Robertson has been a life long supporter of Israel and has continually expressed grave concern over dividing the land of Israel.
"Robertson pointed to the book of Joel in the Old Testament to show a biblical perspective of Godís view of Israel and efforts made from people who try to divide Godís land.
"In the book of Joel, the prophet Joel makes it very clear that God has Ďenmity against those who divide My land.í God considers this land to be His. When you read the Bible, He said this is my land. For any Prime Minister of Israel who decides he will carve it up and give it away, God said, "No, this is Mine."
Ms Watts accused rival groups was a 'left-wing political agenda' of lifting her employer's comments out of context to discredit him.
Mr Robertson, who ran for the US presidency as a conservative in 1988, and often urges supporters on his show to support President Bush, is known for his rhetorical outbursts.
In October, he said a spate of natural disasters pointed to the end of the world and the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ. In August, Robertson said the United States should "take out" - assassinate - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Again, he later apologised and clarified the remark.
Mr Sharon, 77, remains in intensive care but doctors have indicated that his condition is no longer life-threatening. Felix Umansky, his chief surgeon, told AFP that it could take months to assess the full extent of the damage he has sustained but said his progress so far had defied all expectations.
i'm sure pat robertson will have his own personal hell when he leaves this world
does he realize he's this transparent?
Re: Robertson loves Sharon because of Rollercoasters
Jesusland!?!? wasnt that an epsiode of the simpsons?
that guy is crazier by the day!