U.S. National Basketball Association’s official website allows fans to nominate for their favorite players for the all-star team.
After the vote, they are asked to share their details which include name, email and home country. The category of “home country” had a list of countries from which voters can select their country of origin.
The drop-down option in that list included “Palestine-occupied territory” – which is an internationally recognized legal status of the Palestinian territories.
However, the terminology irked Israel as a number of leading Israeli politicians protested and termed it as inaccurate and provocative.
Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev registered her protest and wrote a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
“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,” the letter read.
NBA spokesman Michael Bass, instead of standing up for the term, blamed a third party for the listing but apologized for incident and also altered the list.
“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. We apologize for this oversight, and have corrected it,” said Bass.
After the NBA’s apology and correction of the term, Regev thanked the commissioner.
“Israel’s lands are not occupied; therefore what was written was false and should have been deleted,” she said.
The move is the latest example that shows to what extent Israel can go to challenge the legal status and definition of Palestine.
Interestingly, the terminology used on NBA’s website is neither “inaccurate” nor “provocative” because it is the internationally recognized legal status of the territories: Both the United Nations and the International Court of Justice refer to the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem as “occupied.”
The incident comes just days after President Donald Trump controversial decision of recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
The move called for protests worldwide because after World War II, while the United Nations recognized Israel as a state in 1948, Jerusalem was established as a “corpus separatum,” or placed under international control.
Despite that, Israel claimed all of Jerusalem as its "united" capital, and annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, during the Six-Day War, effectively putting the entire city under de-facto Israeli control.
Since then, Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem has been considered illegal under international law and Israel’s self-declared ownership of the city is not recognized by the international community.
However, Trump’s move has given the thumbs up to Israeli occupation.
Spotlight/Banner: Reuters, Carlos Jasso