'The Land of Israel is not occupied'

Culture Minister Miri Regev praises NBA for changing reference to 'Occupied Palestinian Territories' on website. 'No such country exists.'

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Miri Regev
Miri Regev
Flash 90

Culture Minister Miri Regev praised NBA Commissioner Adam Silver thanking for his willingness to change a reference to the "Occupied Palestinian Territories" on its All Star Game voting website.

A new website the league set up for the 2018 All-Star Game in Los Angeles enables fans to vote for their favorite players. After the vote, fans are directed to a page where they are instructed to pick which country they are from. While the website lists Israel, it also lists the "Occupied Palestinian Territories".

Fans only became aware of the option when they tried to vote for Israeli NBA player Omri Casspi. Hadashot 2 said that league officials were unable to comment as they were on Christmas vacation.

Minister Regev sent an angry letter to NBA Commissioner Silver demanding that the listing be removed.

"I was surprised to discover that on the official website of the NBA, where hundreds of millions of basketball fans are voting and who are currently choosing the players for the 2018 All-Star Game, the state of ‘Palestine - Occupied Territory’ was listed as one of the many countries to which basketball fans belong," wrote Regev.

She noted that “Palestine” is “a country everyone knows doesn’t exist,” and added, “I view the inclusion of ‘Occupied Palestine’ in the list of countries appearing on your official website as legitimizing the division of the State of Israel and as gross and blatant interference, in contrast to the official position of the American administration and the declarations of President Donald Trump, who just recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Therefore, I would like to express my disapproval and ask you to immediately act to remove ‘Palestine – Occupied Territory’ from the list of countries.”

The NBA apologized for the listing Thursday night.

Kathy Behrens, the NBA's President of Social Responsibility, and the person who oversaw the league's Basketball without Borders program in Israel last summer, told Arutz Sheva that the listing, which has since been removed from the site, was placed by a third party.

“We do not produce the country listings for NBA.com and as soon as we became aware of it, the site was updated. We apologize for this oversight, and have corrected it,” she said.

Regev acknowledged the NBA's willingness to change the wording, and said that it was a victory for the State of Israel. "I am glad that my request fell on attentive ears and the NBA leadership and its chairman, Adam Silver, accepted my position, and I thank Silver, who understood the mistake and acted immediately to correct it. As I said in the past and say again: The territories of Israel are not occupied. Therefore the lies written there should be removed."

"In this decision, Adam Silver proved his honesty and integrity. I wish him continued success in leading the best league in the world and looking forward to meeting the NBA All Star team here in Israel, as part of the 70th anniversary of our independence," said Regev.

While the listing was changed to remove the word "occupied," the listing for "Palestinian Territory" remains on the NBA website.