JERUSALEM — Israel will not do business with Pat Robertson after the evangelical leader suggested Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s massive stroke was divine punishment for the Gaza withdrawal, a tourism official said today.
Robertson is leading a group of evangelicals who have pledged to raise $50 million to build a large Christian tourism center in Israel’s northern Galilee region, where tradition says Jesus lived and taught.
But Avi Hartuv, a spokesman for Tourism Minister Avraham Hirschson, said Israeli officials were furious with Robertson, a Christian broadcaster. A day after Sharon’s Jan. 4 stroke, Robertson said the prime minister was being punished for “dividing God’s land,” â€” a reference to last summer’s pullout from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements.
“We can’t accept this kind of statement,” Hartuv said.
He said the Christian Heritage Center project was now in question, though he left the door open to develop it with others.
“We will not do business with him, only with other evangelicals who don’t back these comments,” Hartuv said. “We will do business with other evangelical leaders, friends of Israel, but not with him.”
“Those that publicly support Ariel Sharon’s recovery … are welcome to do business with us.”