The Council was founded in the 1970s as the successor to Gush Emunim ("Bloc of the Faithful"), an organization formed to promote Jewish settlement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which they regarded as the return of Jews to their Biblical homeland. The Council consists of 25 democratically elected mayors and ten community leaders, representing municipalities with a combined Jewish population of around 225,000. Its resettlement policy was criticized by the Sasson Report, which concluded that the Israeli government was secretly funneling funds to the construction of settlements.
The mandate of the council is to assist Jewish settlement across the territories in every way possible. Its mandate is to assist Jewish settlements in every possible way. The Council works to improve security by (for instance) arranging the acquisition of bullet-proof ambulances and buses. The Council works with the Israeli government to provide roads, electricity, and water to the settlements.
In addition to municipal and security issues, the Council serves as the political arm of the Jewish residents of Yesha. The Council lobbies for their interests with the Knesset and the government. The Council carries on public relations campaigns for the settlements and has organized several large public protests.
The current chairman of the Yesha Council is Naftali Bennett, who is also the leader of the far-right Jewish Home party.