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Biden Pledges to “Stand Up for Media Freedom” After Snubbing Shireen Abu Akleh’s Family

HeadlineJul 15, 2022

President Biden has met with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Earlier today, Biden traveled from Israel to the Palestinian Authority’s presidential compound in Bethlehem. Along the way, his motorcade passed billboards and banners protesting U.S. support for Israel’s occupation, as well as the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead by Israel’s military last May in the Jenin refugee camp. In a joint news conference with President Abbas, Biden claimed the U.S. continues to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He also defended the U.S. response to the killing of Abu Akleh.

President Joe Biden: “She was an American, American citizen, and a proud Palestinian. … I hope that her legacy — her legacy will inspire more young people to carry on her work of reporting the truth and telling stories that are too often overlooked. The United States will continue to insist on a full and transparent accounting of her death, and we’ll continue to stand up for media freedom everywhere in the world.”

Biden’s remarks came after he rejected a request by Shireen Abu Akleh’s family to meet with him during his visit to Israel. Abu Akleh’s niece, Lina Abu Akleh, wrote, “We would like Biden to do in Shireen’s case what his and previous US administrations have failed to do when other American citizens were killed by Israel: hold the killers accountable.”

Biden is traveling today from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport on a direct flight to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he’ll meet senior Saudi officials including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Press freedom groups are demanding Biden confront the prince over the killing and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi; in 2018, the CIA concluded bin Salman personally ordered the assassination.

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