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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Israeli Pioneer Hero Hanan Porat Passes

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Israeli Pioneer Hero Hanan Porat Passes

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Hanan Porat (Hebrew: חנן פורת‎, born Hanan Spitzer; 12 December 1943 – 4 October 2011) was an Israeli Rabbi, educator and politician who served as a member of the Knesset for Tehiya, the National Religious Party, Tkuma and the National Union during two spells; 1981-84, and 1988-99.

Porat was born in Kfar Pines in 1943, during the Mandate era. In 1944, his family moved to Kfar Etzion. In early 1948, during the 1947-1948 Civil War in Palestine, Kfar Etzion was besieged and the children were evacuated to Jerusalem. Porat's father also moved there to arrange convoys. After the Kfar Etzion massacre, his family settled in Kfar Pines. Porat studied at the Bnei Akiva yeshiva high school, Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh and the Mercaz HaRav talmudic college, and was ordained as a rabbi. He worked as a religious teacher at several yeshivas.

He served in the Paratroopers Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces during the Six-Day War and was among the troops that captured the Temple Mount. He later said that the Israeli victory should have become a national holiday. After the Six-Day War he helped re-establish the Gush Etzion settlement bloc in the West Bank. He convinced Prime Minister Levi Eshkol to grant permission to settle in Gush Etzion. He was badly wounded in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 on the bank of the Suez canal. He recovered and was amongst the founders of Gush Emunim movement, which founded over 100 Israeli settlements. In 1975 he led the founding of Elon Moreh, the first Israeli settlement in the West Bank, in Sebastia.

In the 1981 elections he was voted into the Knesset on the Tehiya list. He resigned on 7 March 1984, towards the end of the Knesset term, and was replaced by Zvi Shiloah. After the evacuation of Yamit in 1982, he announced his intention to build new settlements in parts of the Land of Israel still not in Israeli hands. In 1995, he convinced Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin not to hand over Rachel's Tomb to the Palestinian Authority. He tried to repeat that in 2008. Prior to Israel's disengagement from Gaza, he instructed youngsters in Neve Dekalim in Gush Katif to disrupt evacuation forces.

In 1988 he returned to the Knesset, this time as a member of the National Religious Party. He was re-elected in 1992 and 1996. In 1996 he was appointed the NRP's parliamentary group chairman, but on 4 March 1999 he and Zvi Hendel left the party to establish a new faction, initially named Emunim, later re-named Tkuma.

Prior to the 1999 elections Tkuma formed an alliance with other small right-wing parties named the National Union. Porat was placed third on the Union's list, and was re-elected again. However, he resigned from the Knesset on 20 October that year, and was replaced by Hendel.

Porat died on 4 October 2011, aged 67, of cancer. Porat was survived by his wife, 10 children and 20 grandchildren.