U.S. Invites Family of Slain Palestinian Journalist Abu Akleh to Washington

The Abu Akleh family earlier slammed the Biden administration's handling of the probe into Abu Akleh's death as a 'betrayal', and called on the U.S. president to meet with them in Bethlehem

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Tony Abu Akleh, brother of late Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and other mourners attend the memorial service for her at the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of the Presentation of the Lord at the Temple in East Jerusalem, last month.
Tony Abu Akleh, brother of late Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and other mourners attend the memorial service for her at the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of the Presentation of the Lord at the Temple in East Jerusalem, last month.Credit: AHMAD GHARABLI - AFP

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has invited the family of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh for a meeting in Washington, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Abu Akleh's brother, Tony, said on Wednesday, as President Joe Biden visits Israel.

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Abu Akleh, a well-known reporter for the Al Jazeera network, was shot in the head on May 11 while reporting on an Israeli raid in the West Bank town of Jenin.

Tony Abu Akleh told Haaretz that no specific date was set for the meeting yet, adding that the family hopes President Biden would also attend. "What's important and what we want to get to is justice for Shireen," her brother said.

Blinken offered the meeting in a phone call on Wednesday, Abu Akleh said.

Last Friday, the Abu Akleh family slammed the Biden administration's handling of the investigation of her death, and called on the U.S. president to meet with them in Bethlehem during his visit and divulge all of the information gathered concerning the killing.

In a letter addressed to U.S. President Joe Biden and signed by Tony Abu Akleh on behalf of her family, her siblings and their children refer to her May death as an "extrajudicial killing," and say that the U.S. government has not "adequately consulted, informed, and supported" the family.

The president’s trip is at risk of being overshadowed by the May killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, and the State Department’s statement on the subject last week, which progressives in Washington have criticized as being too soft on Israel.

Six of the most senior senators in the Democratic caucus — all considered close Biden allies and staunch Israel supporters — wrote a pair of letters saying the State Department statement wasn’t adequately sufficient in pursuing accountability in Abu Akleh’s death, pushing the administration to continue involving itself in an independent investigation.

Progressive lawmakers were initially calculated in expressing their displeasure. Rep. Andre Carson, who led a letter from 58 House Democrats demanding a U.S. investigation into the killing, sponsored an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual bill that details U.S. defense spending and policy.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib accused the Biden administration of declaring it was “incapable of even attempting to achieve any measure of justice for an American citizen,” saying the administration “[extended] the benefit of the doubt to a government that has earned none.”

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