Shireen Abu Akleh: Mitt Romney and Democratic lawmaker urge action over killing, but stop short of blaming Israel

Shireen Abu Akleh: Mitt Romney and Democratic lawmaker urge action over killing, but stop short of blaming Israel
3 min read
07 June, 2022
Mitt Romney, a Republican former presidential candidate, and Jon Ossoff, Georgia's first Jewish senator, said they are 'deeply disturbed' by Shireen Abu Akleh's killing.
Mitt Romney, who supports Israel, signed a joint letter calling for 'accountability' for Shireen Abu Akleh's killing [Anna Moneymaker/Getty-archive]

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney urged accountability for the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in a joint letter with a Democratic lawmaker bearing Monday's date, but stopped short of blaming Israel.

Romney, a Republican senator from Utah and former presidential candidate, and Jon Ossoff, Georgia's first Jewish senator, addressed the letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a US citizen, was shot dead by Israeli forces while covering a raid on the occupied city of Jenin in May. 

The letter stopped short of pointing fingers at Israel for Abu Akleh's death, despite eyewitness testimonies and other evidence indicating its forces pulled the trigger.

"We are deeply disturbed by the killing of an American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh," the politicians wrote.

"We urge that the State Department ensure there is a full and transparent investigation and accountability for Ms. [Abu] Akleh's death.

"The killing of a U.S. citizen and of a journalist engaged in the work of reporting in a conflict zone is unacceptable."

Reiterating their earlier comments, the senators said they "insist" that the Biden administration "ensure a full and transparent investigation is completed" and that "justice is served".

MENA
Live Story

The letter, signed by both lawmakers and published on Ossoff's senate website, asked for a "detailed update" about "progress" on this within 30 days.

Romney is a strong supporter of Israel while Ossoff was endorsed by liberal pro-Israel group J Street for his 2021 senate runoff race.

The two lawmakers said that journalists across the globe "pursue truth and accountability at great personal risk", calling press freedom a "core American value".

They added that they "cannot accept impunity when journalists are killed in the line of duty".

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in late May that Blinken had told Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid the US "urges the Israeli government to swiftly conclude their investigation into the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh".

"We expect full accountability for those responsible for her killing, and we have urged that the sides share their evidence with each other to facilitate that investigation," Price added.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) completed an investigation into Abu Akleh's death last month, finding that an Israeli soldier had killed her.

The PA has refused to provide Israel with the bullet that fatally wounded the veteran Al Jazeera reporter, saying it did not trust Israel to conduct a fair investigation after it had spread "false narratives" over Abu Akleh's killing.

Israel's military and leaders initially claimed that she was killed by Palestinian gunmen.

They soon backtracked on that claim, instead saying they could not conclusively determine whose gunfire hit the veteran US-Palestinian journalist.

Israel claimed it needs the bullet to know for sure.

Al Jazeera announced in late May that it was going to refer Abu Akleh's death to the International Criminal Court.