The US secretary of state says he has urged his Israeli counterpart to conclude “investigations” into the killing of the Al Jazeera reporter.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has told his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid that “investigations” into the death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh must be completed, the State Department said.
In a Friday statement outlining the talks with Israel’s foreign minister, the State Department said Blinken “stressed the importance of concluding investigations into the death” of Abu Akleh, who was a US citizen.
The veteran reporter was killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank earlier this month.
It was unclear what investigations Blinken was referring to, but the State Department had previously said it would trust Israel to conduct an investigation into the killing of the veteran reporter in the Palestinian city of Jenin.
In a series of tweets on Friday, Lapid said had promised Blinken that Israel would “share the results of [its] investigation” into the murder of Abu Akleh “with the United States as standard practice between our countries.”
The Israeli army said last week that it will not open a criminal investigation into the fatal shooting of Abu Akleh. But on Monday, the Israeli media quoted the Israeli army’s top lawyer as saying the army is “doing everything possible” to investigate the incident.
The Biden administration has been under pressure to launch an independent US-led investigation into what happened, including from dozens of Democratic members of Congress who are demanding an FBI investigation.
But while Washington has condemned the killing of Abu Akleh, State Department spokesman Ned Price has said that Israel has “the means and the ability to carry out a full and thorough investigation.”
Blinken’s call with Lapid on Friday comes a day after the Palestinian Authority said the results of its own investigation into the veteran journalist’s murder showed she was deliberately shot dead by Israeli forces.
Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reporting from Washington on Friday, said that “this is why, since this report was published just over 24 hours ago, the Americans are now pressing the Israelis to come up with a speedy investigation.”
Fisher added, however, that “there is no sign that anyone … in the State Department or in the White House is pressuring the Israelis to agree to an FBI investigation,” as Democratic Party lawmakers have requested.
That FBI investigation “is something that the Palestinians and many in the international community would see as a kind of independent investigation into the assassination,” he said.
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera Media Network has assigned a legal team to refer the murder to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
The network said on Thursday that it had formed an international coalition consisting of its legal team along with international experts, and is preparing a dossier on the Abu Akleh murder to submit to the ICC prosecutor.
Earlier this week, Al Jazeera’s Washington, DC bureau chief Abderrahim Foukara also urged the international community to help ensure a “transparent and independent investigation” into the killing of Abu Akleh and a U.S. attack. Israeli forces at his funeral.
Israeli police attacked Abu Akleh’s funeral procession in Jerusalem and beat pallbearers carrying his coffin with batons in scenes that sparked further anger and calls for accountability.
“Al Jazeera’s position is very clear: Shireen Abu Akleh’s life matters, as does a transparent and independent investigation of her murder and of the gross violation of her funeral by Israeli security forces,” Foukara told The Associated Press. UN Security Council during an informal session. .