Biden meets Palestinian and seeks to soften criticism over journalist’s death


US President Joe Biden met on Friday (15) with the president of the Palestinian National Authority and tried to calm the criticism of his government intensified after the death of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May. Biden said he will insist on a full and transparent investigation of the case.

Dissatisfaction escalated after the United States said earlier this month that the shooting that killed Palestinian-American reporter Shireen during an action in the West Bank was likely from Israeli forces, but that the act should not be seen as intentional.

In protest, colleagues of Abu Akleh who participated in the press conference with Biden and Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, placed a photo of the journalist on one of the chairs with the phrase in Arabic “Shireen Abu Akleh, the voice of Palestine”.

Biden also offered an aid package for the Palestinians and advocated a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel. “Even if the ground is not ripe at this point to restart negotiations, the United States and my government are not going to give up on trying to bring the two states closer together,” he said.

Abbas, for his part, said the chances of such a deal are waning and that the window of opportunity “may not remain open for long.” “Wouldn’t it be a good time for this occupation to end?” he questioned. He again accused Israel of promoting an apartheid regime against the Palestinians.

The Palestinian Authority leader reiterated the call for the US to open a consulate in East Jerusalem, remove the Palestine Liberation Organization from the list of terrorist organizations and allow the group to open an office in Washington.

Biden said he recognized that, after failed attempts to resolve the conflict, Palestinians were living in difficult situations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “We can feel the pain and frustration,” she said.

The day before, the White House announced an economic aid package that would include $100 million for a network of Palestinian hospitals and $201 million for the UN refugee care program. The values, however, need the approval of Congress.

The measure is part of the Democratic administration’s efforts to restore some of the aid that former President Donald Trump ended, including support for the hospital network. Mohammad Alawawda, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health, said hospitals struggled to treat patients after that. “Resuming American aid revives hospitals.”

Biden’s meeting with Palestinian officials comes a day after meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, when talks focused on tightening deals to contain Iran’s nuclear weapons and the new partnership with India and the United Arab Emirates.

The Iranian public response came this Friday through the country’s foreign ministry on Twitter. The ministry said it would continue efforts to ease sanctions, but that it would “never back down on the inalienable rights of the great Iranian nation.” “The White House puppet show and Zionism in the region only gives us more determination,” she wrote.

This is Biden’s first trip to the Middle East as president. Now, he’s headed for the most critical destination: Saudi Arabia, a regime he called a “pariah” during the race for the White House.

Hours before boarding, Biden announced that Riyadh had agreed to allow Israeli planes to fly between the two countries, in a move towards breaking Tel Aviv’s diplomatic isolation in the Arab world. He praised the decision, which he said will help boost Israeli integration.

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