Gush Emunim leader and former MK Hanan Porat dies at 67

Netanyahu expresses "deep sorrow" at death of former Knesset member Hanan Porat, says his Zionist "fervor never waned for an instant."

Hanan Porat 311 (photo credit: Courtesy Moskowitz Prize for Zionism)
Hanan Porat 311
(photo credit: Courtesy Moskowitz Prize for Zionism)
Porat, who inspired thousands of people to settle the hilltops of Judea and Samaria, died at his home in Kfar Etzion on Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. He was 67.
Porat’s funeral will take place at 11 a.m. on Wednesday in Kfar Etzion.
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Porat was among the founders of Gush Emunim, an organization committed to building Jewish towns in the West Bank. He was respected even by his fiercest adversaries for his Zionism, leadership skills and modesty.
He served as an MK twice, first from 1981-1984 in the Tehiya Party, which he helped found, and from 1988-1999 with the National Religious Party. Porat later became one of the founding members of the National Union but did not represent it in the Knesset.
He was also chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee during the fourteenth Knesset.
Porat taught at Yeshivat Har Etzion, the religious kibbutz yeshiva in Ein Tzurim, and at the Beit Orot Yeshiva in Jerusalem, building a reputation as one of the top educators in religious Zionism.
During the Six Day War he served as a paratrooper and took part in the liberation of Jerusalem. He also fought on the Suez Canal during the Yom Kippur War and was badly wounded.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a statement expressing “deep sorrow” at Porat’s death.
“Hanan Porat dedicated his life to building the Land of Israel and to educating generations of national religious students toward the love of the land of Israel and the people of Israel,” he said.
Netanyahu pointed out that as a son of Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, a community that was destroyed during the War of Independence, Porat “led the return to Gush Etzion after it was liberated” following the Six Day War.
“His contribution to building and settling the land, to education and to Zionist leadership was an example for Israel’s citizens,” Netanyahu said. “I first met him almost 40 years ago and was immediately impressed by his Zionist fervor and his deep dedication to returning the Jewish people to its land. That fervor never waned for an instant, and accompanied him to his final day. Much will still be told of his contribution to institutions, individuals and the education of a younger generation.”
Netanyahu conveyed his condolences to Porat’s wife, Rachel, to his children, grandchildren and “thousands of his friends and students who will continue in his Zionist path.”
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said “the Knesset bows its head together with the family, friends and students of Rabbi Hanan Porat, a fervent Zionist, an outstanding parliamentarian and a faithful builder of the Land of Israel. Rabbi Porat was a man of vision and of actions, and a true friend.”
The National Union released a statement saying Porat was “a bridge and a ray of light in connecting religious and secular Jews, and was a pioneer in settling Judea and Samaria. Rabbi Hanan Porat worked to increase love and faith in the Jewish people and to strengthen its hold on the land of our fathers.”
Gush Etzion Regional Council leader Shaul Goldstein called Porat “a great teacher of settlement. He loved the people of Israel and made sure to connect them to their land. Hanan’s leadership, faith, honesty and firmness will be missed.”
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.