Gush Emunim Established (L-R) Gush Emunim founding members, Rabbi Moshe Levinger and Hanan Porat celebrating the establishment of the first West Bank settlement in 1975. Photo: Moshe Milner

February 7, 1974

Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful), a settler movement closely tied to the National Religious Party, is founded by followers of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, including Hanan Porat, Haim Drukman and Rabbi Moshe Levinger, with the release of a declaration of purpose. Although the formal creation of the movement comes in response to the Yom Kippur War and talk of withdrawal from the Sinai and the Golan Heights, its roots go back to the capture of those territories, the Gaza Strip, and Judaea and Samaria during the June 1967 war.

A key theme of the declaration is the attainment of true Zionism “in spirit and deed.” Gush Emunim intends to “include public relations and educational staffers to penetrate all public sectors with the idea of the Greater Land of Israel.” In other words, Gush Emunim is determined to develop a permanent Israeli presence beyond the Green Line, the cease-fire line from the War of Independence.

The movement sometimes establishes illegal outposts as part of a strategy that succeeds in settling more than 400,000 Israelis in the West Bank over the next 45 years. It is not until October 1979 that Gush Emunim loses a court challenge over an outpost. Key members of Gush Emunim are implicated in 1984 in a terrorist plot to blow up the Dome of the Rock.

Although the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip is seen as a defeat for the settler movement, its growing presence in the West Bank remains a major issue to be resolved as part of any peace between Israelis and Palestinians.