Leader of Israeli settler movement dies
JERUSALEM — Hanan Porat, a driving force behind Israel's
settlement of the West Bank, died Monday of cancer. He was 67.
Porat, a former Israeli lawmaker, was a founder of the now-defunct
movement Gush Emunim — Hebrew for "the bloc of the faithful" — a
messianic movement is committed to settling land Israel captured
in the 1967 Middle East war. Followers believe God promised the
West Bank to the Jewish people, and they set out to cement Israeli
sovereignty there by creating a large-scale civilian presence.
But even before Gush Emunim was founded in 1974, Porat was a
leading figure in the settlement movement launched after Israel
captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in 1967. He helped
establish the first settlement in the West Bank, Kfar Etzion, on
the site of a kibbutz that had been captured by the Jordanian army
He later helped create the Jewish enclave in the biblical city of
Hebron, which is currently one of the most radical settlements.
Hebron's ancient Jewish community was driven out after an Arab
massacre in 1929.
Porat later turned to politics, and was elected to Israel's
parliament in 1981, serving, except for a four-year hiatus,
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his sorrow
over Porat's passing.
"Hanan Porat dedicated his life to building up the Land of Israel,
and to educating generations of students about religious Zionism
and loving the Land of Israel and the Jewish People," Netanyahu
said in a statement. "I first met Hanan almost 40 years ago and
was immediately impressed by his Zionist fervor and his deep
commitment to restoring the Jewish People to its Land. This fervor
did not lessen and accompanied him until his last day," Netanyahu
Today, about half a million Jewish settlers live in the West Bank
and east Jerusalem. Israel withdrew settlers and soldiers from
Gaza in 2005 — a move Porat strongly opposed.
Israeli settlements, built on land the Palestinians claim for a
future state, are widely denounced internationally. Continued
construction there has been the latest wedge in relations with the
Palestinians, who refuse to negotiate peace until the building