Robertson Apologizes to Sharon's Son for Remarks

New York Times/January 12, 2006

Washington (Reuters) -- Conservative Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson has apologized for suggesting Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine punishment for Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip.

In a letter to Sharon's son, Omri, the controversial U.S. evangelist sought forgiveness for saying last week on his ``700 Club'' television show that Sharon was "dividing God's land and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course.''

"My zeal, my love of Israel and my concern for the future safety of your nation led me to make remarks which I can now view in retrospect as inappropriate and insensitive in light of a national grief experienced because of your father's illness,'' Robertson said in the letter, dated on Wednesday.

Sharon, 77, suffered a massive stroke last week and has been fighting for his life since.

Robertson, a former Republican presidential candidate with a history of controversial statements, said in the letter that ''I ask your forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people of Israel for saying what was clearly insensitive at the time.''

In response to Robertson's initial remarks, Israeli Tourism Minister Avraham Hirschson said on Wednesday that Robertson would not be involved in a planned $48 million Christian Heritage Center on the shore of the biblical Sea of Galilee in Israel.

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