IBA ombudsman: Judea, Samaria not part of state

Settler's request for weather info on settlements sets off political storm.

ofra settlement 298 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
ofra settlement 298 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Israel Broadcasting Authority moved quickly Monday to reject a statement by its ombudsman, Elisha Spiegelman, who as part of a formal response to a viewer's question said that Judea and Samaria were not within the nation's boundaries. In an e-mail written last week, but published for the first time on Monday, Spiegelman provided a startling interpretation of IBA policy for a settler from Eli named Yossi who had queried Channel 1 on its failure to report on the weather in the settlements. "I want to remind you that Judea and Samaria are not part of the state of Israel - and the settlement of Eli is not included within the boundaries of the state," wrote Spiegelman, who is a former Mabat newscast editor. As such, he said, Judea and Samaria were not part of the regular weather broadcast which focused solely on regions within the state. Spiegelman also added that the weather in Judea and Samaria was similar enough to Jerusalem's that it was covered by the capital's temperature forecasts. On Monday, he told The Jerusalem Post he wrote what he believed was IBA policy and not his own political opinion. "It is accepted that Eli is not part of the state," Spiegelman told the Post. The IBA has since distanced itself from the response. In a letter released to the media, IBA Director-General Moti Sklar said that Spiegelman's statement did not represent his view or that of the IBA. "I do not see any connection between general knowledge about the weather and a legitimate political debate within Israel society," said Sklar. The IBA has to provide information to all of the Israeli public, he added. Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip told the Post he was satisfied for the moment by Channel 1's rejection of Spiegelman's statement. Yossi, who asked that his last name not be used, said that Spiegelman's response had been more then he had bargained for. "I was surprised. I didn't expected a political response," he said. His simple request had been for the station to include Samaria in its reports. "I served in the army. I pay taxes. I simply wanted to wake up in the morning and know what the weather is," said Yossi. Up until now, he said, the only place where that information can easily be found was the right-wing radio station Arutz 7.