Looking Back: A 1999 Interview with Hanan Porat

After his resignation from the Knesset, the 'Post' sat down with Porat, who passed away this week. Here is the interview from our archives.

Hanan Porat 311 (photo credit: Courtesy Moskowitz Prize for Zionism)
Hanan Porat 311
(photo credit: Courtesy Moskowitz Prize for Zionism)
This article was first published on October 19, 1999
How do you feel now you are completing a circle by returning to the settler movement from which you launched your public career?
I'm not closing a circle with regard to the fight for the Land of Israel. On the contrary, I think I'm opening a new circle at the grassroots level.
It's just that today I don't see the Knesset as the place from which I can particularly contribute. I always look to see from where I can achieve the most. I'm not looking to remain in a particular seat, nor to conform to norms, nor to be proud.
What are the highs and lows of your 13 years as an MK?
I can't talk about a specific moment, but my most significant contribution was in the last year as chairman of the Law Committee, when I was able to help with the implementation of dozens of laws. With regard to the peace process, thanks to my efforts the Golan Heights Law was passed, that's the law that establishes the framework for a referendum, which prevents the government from making decisions concerning territory in the Land of Israel.
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There were several bills which I tried to push through but failed, for example one concerning libel, which was fought against by the journalists' lobby and another, which became law, preventing pornography and obscenity in the media, but which unfortunately is still not enforced.
I was bitterly disappointed by Binyamin Netanyahu and the Likud. I really expected them to pull themselves together and find a new direction and not fall into the trap of Oslo, nor to back the Wye agreement.
When I look back over the entire period, I can say I tried my to utmost to fight for the issues to which I'm committed.
Is it true to say that were Netanyahu still in power today we would not be witnessing the disbanding of encampments in the territories?
Maybe things would have been different on the surface, but Bibi paid the price for implementing Wye, which has enabled the present government to say 'What do you want from us, all we're implementing is what you signed?'
My friends and I had no choice.
Are you saying you helped cause the downfall of the government?
The question is how you word it. I believe Bibi Netanyahu, whom we warned: 'Don't go to Wye and don't sign because if you do, we can no longer be your partners,' caused his own downfall. It's like warning someone: 'Don't jump into the chasm,' and then he falls in. Are you meant to feel guilty?
After he repented for what he had done, I tried to support him. On the eve of the elections we asked people to vote for Bibi Netanyahu. I'm sorry it was too late.
During your career you've changed party several times. Does this say something about Hanan Porat, the Israeli Right, or the political system in general?
Firstly, I didn't move around as much as people suggest. Of late, I left because of the weakness in the NRP, but before that I tried to help strengthen the party. I'm not talking about a flaw in the technical side of the political framework. I think it's very difficult for someone who wants to be true to his views to serve in the Knesset.
People in the NRP claim you are a one-issue politician.
Absolute nonsense. If you look at my work in the Knesset, you'll see all the bills I introduced even before I chaired the Law Committee in the fields of ethics and society, for the disabled, in education and Torah. In fact I have a very wide perspective.
Is the dream of a Greater Land of Israel dead?
Absolutely not. I believe what we've already created on the ground, including the settler movement and the awakening of a huge population which today is linked to this movement, give us a guarantee that this dream is not fading. There's no doubt this issue will require a tremendous fight in the near future, but I'm euphorically optimistic.