By Humeyra Pamuk
(Reuters) – The family of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh has accused the United States of providing impunity for Israel over her killing and asked to meet President Joe Biden in person during his trip to Israel next week.
In a letter to Biden posted on Twitter on Friday, the family said the administration simply adopted the Israeli government’s conclusions over her death, which it described as an extrajudicial killing, while falling short of its own stated goal of ensuring full accountability.
“Your administration’s engagement has served to whitewash Shireen’s killing and perpetuate impunity,” said the letter, signed by her brother Anton Abu Akleh on the family’s behalf.
“It is as if you expect the world and us to now just move on. Silence would have been better.” The family asked to see all the information the administration has collected on the issue.
Abu Akleh was killed on May 11 during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin under bitterly disputed circumstances.
Last month the United Nations human rights office said evidence suggested Israeli military fire had killed Abu Akleh while she stood with other reporters and was identifiable as a journalist.
The State Department on Monday said she was likely killed by gunfire from Israeli positions but it was probably unintentional and independent investigators could not reach a definitive conclusion about the origin of the bullet that struck her.
Palestinian officials criticized the report and maintained she had been deliberately targeted by an Israeli soldier. Israel denied this.
In his first Middle East trip as president on July 13-16, Biden is expected to meet separately with Palestinian and Israeli leaders. The Abu Akleh case will be a diplomatic and domestic test for new Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
A group of 24 U.S. senators in Biden’s Democratic Party last month urged him to ensure direct U.S. involvement in the investigation of Abu Akleh’s killing.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Mary Milliken and Howard Goller)