The United Nations Security Council on Friday strongly condemned the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and called for “an immediate, thorough, transparent, and fair and impartial investigation”.
Al Jazeera's veteran reporter Abu Akleh was killed on Wednesday when she was covering an Israeli military operation in the West Bank town of Jenin. Al Jazeera said that Israeli forces killed her "in cold blood".
The UNSC's 15 members approved a press statements after language was removed emphasising the importance of media freedom and the need for journalists working in dangerous areas to be protected at the insistence of China and Russia, diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions were private.
The UNSC statement reiterated “that journalists should be protected as civilians” and also condemned the injury to Abu Akleh's colleague.
Abu Akleh, 51, was a household name across the Arab world, revered for her coverage of Palestinian life under Israeli rule for the Al Jazeera satellite channel for the last 25 years.
Anger at Abu Akleh's killing escalated on Friday when the Israeli riot police assaulted pallbearers, causing them to briefly drop her casket in a shocking start to her funeral procession. It turned into perhaps the largest display of Palestinian nationalism in Jerusalem in a generation.
Israel says it is investigating the incident. It initially suggested she might have been shot by Palestinian militants, without providing evidence, but has since backtracked. Israel called for a joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank and cooperates with it on security. But the Palestinians rejected a joint investigation and demanded an independent international investigation.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel for her killing and said he would immediately ask the International Criminal Court to investigate. The ICC launched an investigation into possible Israeli war crimes over a year ago, a probe Israel has rejected as biased.
The UNSC did not use the word international, calling for an impartial investigation and stressing the need to ensure accountability.
Negotiations on the council statement were led by Norway, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
Norway's UN Ambassador Mona Juul commended the “good collaboration" and called the protection of journalists a priority for her country.
“We are particularly concerned about the rising trend in attacks on media works, and on women journalists in particular" Juul said in a statement.
(With AP inputs)