Gush Emunim

Israel Table of Contents

Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful), a right-wing ultranationalist, religio-political revitalization movement, was formed in March 1974 in the aftermath of the October 1973 War. The younger generation of NRP leaders who constituted the party's new religious elite created Gush Emunim. Official links between Gush Emunim and the Youth Faction of the National Religious Party were severed following the NRP's participation in the June 1974 Labor-led coalition government, but close unofficial links between the two groups continued. Gush Emunim also maintained links to Tehiya and factions in the Herut wing of Likud.

The major activity of Gush Emunim has been to initiate Jewish settlements in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. From 1977 to 1984, Likud permitted the launching of a number of Jewish settlements beyond the borders of the Green Line. The Likud regime gave Gush Emunim the active support of government departments, the army, and the WZO, which recognized it as an official settlement movement and allocated it considerable funds for settlement activities.

A thirteen-member secretariat has governed Gush Emunim. A special conference elected nine of the group's secretaries and co-opted the other four from the leadership ranks of its affiliated organizations. Four persons have managed the movement's day-to-day affairs: Rabbi Moshe Levinger, a founder of Gush Emunim and the leader of the Jewish town of Kiryat Arba, near Hebron, on the West Bank; Hanan Porat, a founder of the organization and a former Tehiya Knesset member who later rejoined the NRP; Uri Elitzur, secretary general of Amana, Gush Emunim's settlement movement; and Yitzhak Armoni, secretary general of Gush Emunim since September 1988. From 1984 to August 1988, American-born Daniella Weiss served as Gush Emunim's secretary general.

Amana was Gush Emunim's settlement arm. The Council of Settlements in Judea and Samaria (Yesha), chaired by Israel Harel, was the political organization representing the majority of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. There were more than eighty such settlements, including those affiliated with nonreligious parties. Yesha dealt primarily with practical matters, such as the utilization of land and water, relations with Israeli military authorities and, if necessary, mobilizing political pressure on the government. Yesha has created affiliations between Gush Emunim settlements and Labor, the NRP, and Herut's Betar youth movement. Two factors shape Yesha, a democratically elected political organization: the right-wing and ultranationalist views of its members and its political dependency on external bodies such as government agencies. The group had five councils in Israel proper and six regional councils in the occupied territories.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress