Jul 15, 2022 - World

Biden calls for "full and transparent accounting" of Shireen Abu Akleh killing

A photo of slain US-Palestinian correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, with a caption in Arabic reading "Shireen Abu Akleh, the voice of Palestine", is placed amongst reporters
A photo of slain Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh is left on an empty chair ahead of President Biden's joint press conference with Palestinian President Mamoud Abbas in Bethlehem. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said in Bethlehem on Friday the U.S. will continue to "insist on a full and transparent accounting" of the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

The big picture: A chair was left empty at a joint press conference between Biden and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to honor Abu Akleh, who was killed in May while covering an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin. She was wearing a bulletproof vest marked "press" at the time.

  • A poster was left in the chair with the Al Jazeera journalist's image and text that read, "Shireen Abu Akleh. The voice of Palestine."

What he's saying: “She was an American citizen and a proud Palestinian,” Biden said Friday. It was the first time he publicly addressed the killing since arriving in the region on Wednesday.

  • “I hope that her legacy will inspire more young people to carry on her work of reporting the truth and telling the stories that are too often overlooked."

State of play: Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke with Abu Akleh's family on Wednesday and invited them for a meeting in Washington, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters earlier this week.

  • The Abu Akleh family had sent a letter to Biden last week, protesting the findings of the U.S. security coordinator investigation into her case and asking to meet Biden during his visit to the region.
  • The investigation found that Abu Akleh was likely killed by unintentional Israeli fire, but the ballistics test of the bullet removed from her body was inconclusive.
  • Israeli officials had voiced frustration that the U.S. security coordinator's conclusions said Abu Akleh was likely killed by Israeli fire, despite saying the ballistics test was inconclusive.

Zoom out: Some Democrats and others have said the Biden administration has not done enough to ensure accountability for her death.

  • Citing witnesses, as well as visual and audio evidence, independent investigations by several news organizations, including the Washington Post, AP and the New York Times, found that it was likely an Israeli soldier fired the fatal shot.
  • The UN human rights body's probe came to a similar conclusion.

Go deeper: Israel, Palestinians privately protested to U.S. over statement on Abu Akleh killing

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