Israel loses one of its great Zionist leaders

Wednesday, October 05, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

Veteran Israeli politician Hanan Porat died at the age of 67 on Tuesday following a long battle with cancer. His passing was mourned by political allies and rivals alike.

Porat was one of the founders of the Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful) that has for decades played such a prominent role in Israeli politics.

Gush Emunim is primarily concerned with the Jewish people's biblical mandate to resettle its ancient homeland, but also places great significance on righteous living in the Land of Israel.

Porat was the driving force behind those policies.

"Hanan Porat dedicated his life to the building of the Land of Israel, to the education of an entire generation of National Religious youth, and to fostering the love of the Land and People of Israel," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin described Porat as "a dedicated Zionist, a professional parliamentarian, and a dedicated builder of the Land of Israel."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke for those who more often than not found themselves on the opposite side of political and ideological divides from Porat.

"Throughout his life he sought to bridge the gap between religious and secular Jews, and between right and left," said Barak.

As Israel's politics become increasingly partisan, especially as regards future control of Judea and Samaria, there is no question that Porat's disarming but firm approach will be missed.

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