Israel's sports minister thanks NBA for removing ‘occupied’ from website

December 31, 2017 00:42
1 minute read.
Miri Regev at Gush Etsion

Minister Miri Regev at Gush Etsion September 27 17 . (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


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Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev commended National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver for removing “Palestine – occupied territory” from the 2018 All-Star game’s website on Friday.

The US basketball league’s website launched a vote for the game, in which site users are invited to pick their favorite NBA players, and then pick their own home country to complete the process. The NBA site lists Israel but originally stated that the Palestinian territories are “occupied.”

The change came after Regev and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, both of the Likud, protested the label.

“I’m glad that my request was heard and the management of the NBA and its commissioner Adam Silver accepted my position,” Regev said, thanking Silver for “understanding the mistake and acting immediately to fix it... proving his integrity and fairness.”

Regev added that “parts of the Land of Israel are not occupied; therefore the lie had to be erased.”

The minister met with Silver in New York in July, in a session Regev characterized as “warm and friendly,” during which they agreed to have the NBA participate in Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations this coming April.

Regev said she was “deeply impressed by [Silver’s] dedication to the State of Israel,” and that he told her at the time that “the popularity of the NBA in Israel relative to the population is among the highest in the world.”

Before the change was made, Hotovely said politics and sports should not mix and that it is wrong to use such a term when describing lands “to which the Jewish people have been connected for thousands of years.”

Hotovely added that “this week, US Ambassador [to Israel David] Friedman called for the cessation of the use of the term ‘occupied’ in regard to Judea and Samaria, and an important sports league such as the NBA should respect this view.”

Hagay Hacohen contributed to this report.

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