RELEASE: Bipartisan Group of 25 Members Urge Administration to Push Palestinian Authority to Submit Forensic Evidence, Bullet for Independent Investigation of Abu Akleh Death

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, June 3, 2022, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) led a bipartisan group of 25 total Members of Congress urging the Administration to ask the Palestinian Authority to provide access to the forensic evidence in the death of Palestinian-American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, for an independent investigation. 

Abu Akleh was killed last month and, according to public reporting, the Palestinian Authority has said they “reject and refuse the participation of any Israelis in this kind of investigation.” The Palestinian Authority has possession of forensic evidence, including the bullet, and without access to the evidence an independent investigation cannot accurately determine all the facts.

“We urge you to ask the Palestinian Authority to provide access to the forensic evidence in Abu Akleh’s death for an independent investigation, so that all parties can reach a definitive conclusion about the events leading to her death, and hold all parties accountable,” the bipartisan group of Members of Congress wrote in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 

The signatory list of 25 bipartisan Members includes Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Fred Upton (R-MI), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Ben Cline (R-VA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Darren Soto (D-FL), Peter Meijer (R-MI), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Juan Vargas (D-CA), David Joyce (R-OH), Jared Golden (D-ME), Dan Meuser (R-PA), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), David Valadao (R-CA), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Jason Smith (R-MO), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Steven Horsford (D-NV) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX).

Full text of the letter can be found here and below:

June 3, 2022

The Honorable Antony Blinken
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC  20520 

Dear Mr. Secretary: 

Earlier this month, an award-winning journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, was killed tragically by gunfire in the West Bank. Ms. Abu Akleh was one of eighteen journalists who have lost their lives this year in the course of their work. A free press is vital to an accountable, democratic government.

No journalist should face threats or violence for doing their job. As such, it is critical that we get to the bottom of what happened in the incident involving Ms. Abu Akleh. Recent sensationalist media accounts of the incident have not served the cause of truth. Only an independent investigation can resolve this situation, and provide solace to the families and all parties. 

Israel has called for a joint investigation with Palestinian officials with the U.S. playing an observer role. The Palestinian Authority was quick to “reject and refuse the participation of any Israelis in this kind of investigation.”  

Without access to the bullet that the Israelis have requested as part of an independent investigation, it is impossible to determine all the facts. This obstinate position serves no one, and will preclude any final determination of responsibility. One-sided releases of information will not get us closer to the truth.

We urge you to ask the Palestinian Authority to provide access to the forensic evidence in Abu Akleh’s death for an independent investigation, so that all parties can reach a definitive conclusion about the events leading to her death, and hold all parties accountable.

Please let us know what actions you plan to take in this urgent matter. Thank you. 

Sincerely,

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

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