US should prosecute Israel for Shireen Abu Akleh's death, Palestinian president says

Mahmoud Abbas also claims Israel 'does not believe in peace’

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 77th session of the UN General Assembly. AFP
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Follow developments at the UN General Assembly as they happen.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday challenged the US to somehow prosecute Israel over the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Israel has said there is a “high possibility” one of its soldiers accidentally shot the veteran journalist while she was covering a military operation in the West Bank city of Jenin.

“Israel is killing our people with impunity, as it did with the Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh,” Mr Abbas said in a speech to the UN General Assembly.

“I dare the US to prosecute those who killed this American national,” he said, but did not elaborate on any international mechanism through which that might be accomplished.

The US has publicly condemned Abu Akleh's killing and called for accountability, and its own investigation found that Israel was most “likely responsible”, but fell short of casting full blame.

Abu Akleh’s death sparked outrage throughout the West Bank and Gaza and has become a rallying cry across the region.

Mr Abbas also told the General Assembly that Palestinian hope and trust in the peace process was regressing.

The 87-year-old Palestinian leader, who has clung to power since the last elections in 2004, accused Israel of ignoring “resolutions of international legitimacy” and of deciding “not to be our partner in the peace process”.

He said Jewish settlements made any future Palestinian state difficult to imagine.

“Israel is giving total freedom to the army and terrorist settlers who are killing the Palestinian people in broad daylight, looting the land and their water, burning and demolishing their homes,” he said.

At one point during his speech, Mr Abbas held up of photo that he said showed a Palestinian man demolishing his home at the behest of Israel. He did not say where or when the photo was taken.

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“Israel is telling the Palestinian people either you demolish your house or I will demolish it myself,” he said.

About 2,000 Palestinian homes have been punitively demolished or sealed up by Israeli forces since the country’s military took control of the West Bank in 1967, a UN report shows.

In some cases, Israel said the homes had been used by terrorists to attack Israeli forces.

“This is what is taking place. I have to demolish my house or they demolish my house and they make me pay for it,” Mr Abbas said.

His speech came a day after Israel’s caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid said he supported a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

“An agreement with the Palestinians, which is based on two states for two peoples, is the right thing for Israel's security, for the Israeli economy and for the future of our children,” Mr Lapid said.

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Updated: September 24, 2022, 6:44 PM