US Secretary Antony Blinken spoke to his Israeli counterpart on Friday about the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh against the backdrop of escalating tensions in Jerusalem.
The top US diplomat told Foreign Minister Yair Lapid that Israel needed to conclude investigations into the killing of Abu Akleh which took place during a military raid in Jenin.
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Abu Akleh, a reporter for Al Jazeera, was shot and killed two weeks ago while reporting on an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank. Palestine and her outlet have accused the Israeli military of killing her. Video footage showed Abu Akleh, 51, wearing a flak jacket with “Press” clearly visible. Israel has rejected responsibility.
As her casket was being carried the next day, hundreds of Palestinians were seen hoisting the Palestinian flag and chanting. Shortly after, Israeli forces rushed at the mourners, attacking them with batons, including the pallbearers and leading to the coffin dropping.
Flag Day tensions
This weekend’s planned march by Jewish nationalists through Palestinian territories, marking the annual Jerusalem Day march, has also raised fears of renewed clashes between Palestinians and Israelis.The same march, held last year, sparked the heaviest fighting in years between Hamas and Israel. The 11-day war in Gaza ended following mediation by Egypt, Jordan and the United States.
“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Israeli Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid regarding the importance of Israelis and Palestinians working to maintain calm,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
Blinken reiterated the Biden administration’s commitment and support for a negotiated two-state solution.
Blinken and Lapid also discussed their “common efforts to confront global challenges,” including Iran and its proxies.
The US and Iran have reached an impasse over reviving the now-defunct 2015 nuclear deal, which the US withdrew from under former President Donald Trump.
A shadow war between Iran and Israel has ensued, with Tehran accusing the US of allowing Israel to sabotage a potential agreement that would see US sanctions lifted on Iran in return for Iran curbing its nuclear weapons program.