Biden Claims Us Will Achieve Accountability For ABU AKLEH Killing
United States President Joe Biden has claimed that his government is insisting on accountability for the May killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by the Israel army.
“The United States will continue to insist on a full and transparent accounting of her death and will continue to stand
up for media freedom everywhere in the world,” Biden said on Friday in a joint press conference with Palestinian
Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.
The US president made no mention of Israel’s responsibility for the killing of the 51-year-old veteran Palestinian-American journalist on May 11 while she was reporting in the occupied West Bank.
“She was an American citizen and a proud Palestinian,” said Biden. “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.”
The news conference was held at the PA’s presidential compound in Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank, during Biden’s four-day tour of the Middle East region from July 13, 2022 to July 16 2022..
Critics have accused Biden of failing to take steps towards accountability for Abu Akleh’s killing.
Activists, volunteers and journalists put up billboards and large banners of Abu Akleh across Bethlehem ahead of Biden’s visit. Dozens of Palestinians protested about a kilometer away from the PA’s presidential compound.
No questions were permitted from the press after the conference, but about a dozen journalists wore a black t-shirt
with Abu Akleh’s face on it in a sign of protest.
A United Nations investigation concluded that the bullet that killed the veteran journalist was fired by Israeli forces.
The Biden administration, however, angered Palestinians when the State Department acknowledged earlier this
month that the fatal bullet that struck Abu Akleh likely came from an Israeli army position, but it framed the killing
as the unintentional “result of tragic circumstances”.
Palestinian politician Hanan Ashrawi said Biden’s “statement of intent” on Abu Akleh are part and parcel of favourable US policy towards Israel.
“This is symptomatic of the sense of guarding Israel’s impunity of preventing Israel from facing accountability in any
way shape or form,” Ashrawi said.
“You had the opportunity, you adopted Israel’s position and that’s it – you are trying to whitewash the situation,”
continued Ashrawi. “It’s not just Shireen – it’s all Palestinians. We need to see a sense of justice.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a US-based watchdog, “cautiously” welcomed Biden’s pledge to ensure
accountability for the killing on Friday.
But it said the group is “disappointed” that the president did not commit to a probe by the FBI or meet with the slain
journalist family during his visit.
“The Biden administration must understand that the campaign to bring real justice for Shireen is not going away
and that any perception of indifference towards journalists would be a huge disservice to the human rights the US
president claims to cherish,” Sherif
Mansour, CPJ Middle East and North Africa programme coordinator, said in a
Speaking in Bethlehem, Biden said his “commitment to the goal of the two state solution has not changed”.
“Two states along the 1967 lines with mutually agreed upon swaps remains the best way to achieve equal measures
of security, prosperity, freedom and democracy for the Palestinians as well as the Israelis,” said Biden, adding that the “Palestinian people deserve a state of their own that is independent, sovereign, viable and contiguous.”
“It’s clear that the US president is not giving anything to the Palestinians other than some aid or attempts to show that he pressured Israel to provide some procedures,” added al-Omary.
After the conference, Biden headed to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport to fly directly to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for the last stop of his Middle East trip later on Friday.
OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM VISIT
Prior to heading to the occupied West Bank, Biden visited the Augusta Victoria hospital in occupied East Jerusalem,
where he announced some $100m in financial assistance to the East Jerusalem Hospitals Network (EJHN), conditioned upon approval from the US Congress.
“These hospitals are the backbone of the Palestinian health care system,” Biden said in a press conference at the
hospital on Friday morning.
“The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been proud to support this network of
hospitals with $85 million since 2014 as part of our commitment to support health and dignity to the Palestinian
people,” he added.
Biden is the first sitting US president to visit occupied East Jerusalem outside of the Old City.
A small Palestinian protest took place outside the hospital calling for justice and accountability for Abu Akleh.
Israeli police blocked the protest from advancing.
At the hospital, Biden also announced some $200m in aid to the United Nation’s refugee agency, UNRWA, which
is the key humanitarian agency for millions of Palestinian refugees.
Biden’s resumption of aid comes following his predecessor Donald Trump’s decisions to cut all financial support for the agency.
Reporting from outside the hospital, Holman said the only thing the US is offering Palestinians is money.
“More than 300 million dollars in aid, some of that is subject to approval, help for some of the hospitals, some
financial help for the economy” said Holman. “Is that going to be enough to satisfy Palestinians and their authorities
Biden arrived in Israel on Wednesday, and spent the whole of Thursday in the country, meeting both the Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and President Isaac Herzog.
Apart from the expected announcement of a resumption of financial assistance to the PA and humanitarian institutions, Biden has not reversed any of Trump’s policies