The next major phase of settlement occurred in the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War which brought large new areas under Israel's control. The question immediately arose of prospective settlement activities in the new areas. This question was predictable given the traditional attitude towards hityashvut both as a way of making a connection to the Land through productive labour and as a means of securing new areas, as strategic assets for the state, especially along the borders. For the first time, the question was muddied by a counter-concept that was immediately declared by the post-war government as it spelled out its policies towards the new areas. On the whole, it viewed these areas as bargaining cards to try and entice the surrounding governments into peace moves that would end Israel's isolation in the region.
In some areas the two values clashed, but not everywhere. In certain sectors, there was very strong consensus towards keeping the areas indefinitely as part of the State of Israel.
The principal areas that were seen in this light were the newly expanded Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the Jordan valley and the area known as the Etzion bloc or Gush Etzion, just to the south of Jerusalem . In all of these areas planning started immediately, with government support and almost complete national approval.
Structure & Settlements
A ring of new urban suburbs were built around Jerusalem, "securing" the hold on the city through tens of thousands of houses in developments such as Ramot Eshkol, Gilo, Ramot, and East Talpiot.
In the Golan, two kibbutzim, Merom Golan and Mevo Chama were set up at opposite ends of the Heights and over the years the area between them was filled in with a string of settlements, largely kibbutzim and moshavim, with one town, Katzrin, set up in the late 1970s.
The Jordan valley would soon become the locus of a string of settlements, the first of which, Kfar Mechola, was founded in 1968. Many settlements, mostly kibbutzim and moshavim, were founded in the 1970's to fill in the eastern line of the area newly acquired by Israel, running down from south of Beit Shean to north of Ein Gedi.
The fourth area which received almost immediate government approval as an area of new settlement, was Gush Etzion (the Etzion bloc) where there had been pre-state Jewish settlement, which had finally fallen in the War of Independence. Here the religious kibbutz, Kfar Etzion, was established immediately after the war, peopled largely by the children of the pre-1948 settlement. Within two years it would be followed by another religious kibbutz and the area would fill up over the next decades as an area of religious kibbutzim, community villages and the towns of Efrat and Betar Illit.
Significantly, as the area developed and expanded to include new settlements increasingly identified with the religious and political right, especially - but not exclusively - after the change in government in 1977, the consensus surrounding the area was rapidly whittled away. Gush Etzion became, for some, synonymous with the whole movement of settlement in the rest of Judea and Samaria. It was over the pre-1967 border and it was not seen as necessary from the strategic-defensive point of view. As such it merged with the rest of the surrounding Jewish settlement landscape and the earlier distinction that it had held for many as a viable area of settlement became increasingly blurred.
A fourth area which fairly soon became the focus of settlement activity in the post-67 years with only marginally a lesser degree of consensus than the first three areas mentioned, was the south western front. From our present perspective we can divide this settlement activity into: the two areas of the Gaza strip and the northern and eastern border of the Sinai peninsula (right down to Sharm al Sheikh).
The first settlements were set up here in the early seventies largely as army camps/ settlements which were "civilianised" after a few years. In the Gaza area the first settlements were Kfar Darom, founded in 1970, and Netzarim some two years later. Settlement activity continued throughout the seventies and into the eighties. At the same period, proper settlement activity started across the border in Sinai along the twin axes of the Mediteranean shore and the gulf of Eilat right down to the Straits of Tiran. The latter area was accepted by almost all Israeli public opinion as being desirable from a security point of view, but settlement was nevertheless fairly sparse until some new government initiatives in the mid 70's which brought about two new towns (Yamit and Ophira) and the Gush Katif settlements in the Gaza strip. These were viewed with differing degrees of support or ambivalence by the public.
Motives & Differences
In the previously mentioned areas, there was general support for the settlements, even if there were differences over details. However, outside of these areas, there was no national consensus on the areas taken in 1967 and what happened in these areas resulted from a clash of ideologies unleashed by the results of the war. The success of the war and the gaining of land which had been part of the biblical heartland of Israel, released strong messianic currents among large sections of the younger generation of orthodox Zionists which soon found its expression in the creation of settlement groups who wished to create settlements in the central areas of the West Bank. The government initially resisted, according to the policy enshrined in the Allon plan, which viewed these areas as bargaining cards for the future. Finally, under pressure from the new activist settler movement (which would organise ultimately in the framework of Gush Emunim in 1974), the government gave in and agreed initially to the setting up of a new Jewish settlement next to Hevron.
Here, the issue was complex. It had always been government policy to avoid settlement in areas that had a large Arab population and especially in the Arab towns. However, there were important emotional connections with Hevron that made it a special case. It was not just that the oldest biblical memories of settlement in the Land were tied up with Hevron, through the story of Abraham's purchase of the Cave of Machpelah. Hevron had important modern memories too. For many centuries, Jews had settled there, seeing it as one of the four "Holy Cities". The centuries old Jewish community had existed up to 1929 when it was destroyed in a blood bath by Arab attack. Settlement here was felt by many to be an absolute moral imperative. The government, under intense pressure, decided to approve the initiative. The settlement or suburb of Hevron, Kiryat Arba, was officially founded in 1972, before the Yom Kippur War of 1973.
In the aftermath of that war, settlement activity in the area initially concentrated in Samaria but later on it returned to the region of Judea, the location of Kiryat Arba. The initial settlements were set up by the Labour government, but after the turnabout in government in 1977 that brought the Likud into power, with its ideological commitment to settlement throughout all the areas taken in 1967, settlement activity increased. Settlement in these areas had been largely religious and largely ideological.
Certainly, all the original settlements founded by the activists of Gush Emunim were ideological in their approach, but as time went on the population attracted to the new settlements became more diverse. Some secular settlements were set up and some of the larger settlements, such as the town of Ariel, were mixed in their population.
The ideological enthusiasm of the original settlers also failed to be the only reason that people were attracted to the new settlements. The quality of life, the cheaper house prices, or even environmental considerations, were increasingly heard as motives for settlement. Nevertheless, the settler population has injected a strong ideological component into discussions of settlement over the past decades.