An Israeli minister lashed out at America’s National Basketball Association Thursday after an official website apparently listed “Palestine — occupied territory” in a list of countries and the league later apologized for erring.
Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev wrote a scathing letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Thursday demanding he remove the listing from NBA.com, citing the fact that it did not fall in line with US President Donald Trump’s positions.
A spokesman for the NBA told The Times of Israel the listing was placed by a third party. It has since been removed, with no listing for any Palestinian entity.
“We apologize for the errant listing. We do not produce the country listings for NBA.com and as soon as we became aware of it, the site was updated,” Michael Bass said.
He did not mention Regev’s letter.
The listing had been included on a form the website asked All-Star team voters to submit after choosing players to participate in the annual exhibition match.
In the letter, Regev claimed that listing “a country everyone knows does not exist” had “hurt” Israel and “distorted” reality.
“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 has just recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” she wrote, according to a statement from her office.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely also released a statement accusing the NBA of mixing sports and politics.
Last month, Regev threatened to pull support for the Giro D’Italia bike race after organizers listed part of the route as going through “west Jerusalem.”
Silver last visited Israel in August, leading a delegation for the “Basketball Without Borders” program, which hosts training camps for top teenage players throughout the world. The program sponsored a series of clinics and workshops for local youngsters that included Israeli Jews as well as members of the Muslim, Christian and Druze minorities. Palestinian children from the West Bank also participated.
“What we’d like to see is using basketball to build bridges between cultures,” he said at the time. “I think it really is true that people, whether on a basketball court, or it’s on a soccer pitch, when they compete together they see how much they really do have in common. In this case, it’s a shared passion for basketball.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.