In a foreign diplomacy crisis between the Biden administration and the Israeli government, the White House and State Department have assured Israelis they were not behind the FBI's unprecedented decision to open an investigation into the killing of a Palestinian-American journalist in the occupied West Bank, Axios reports. Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh wore a bulletproof vest marked "press" when she was killed in May while covering an Israeli military raid in the city of Jenin. The Palestinian Authority and her family have accused the military of intentionally targeting her. More than 20 Democratic U.S. senators called for an independent FBI investigation after the Israeli military at first denied knowledge of how Abu Akleh was shot, but then said it was likely a case of "unintentional fire" from an Israeli soldier.
The FBI decision to open an investigation was made before Israel's Nov. 1 elections, but Justice Department notification to the government came three days after. Israel has demanded explanations and its defense minister has made it clear to the U.S. it will not cooperate with the FBI investigation, Axios' sources said. Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Tuesday that the government had conveyed its "strong protest" to the U.S. "Our soldiers will not be investigated by the FBI or by any other foreign country or entity, however friendly it may be. We will not abandon our soldiers to foreign investigations," Lapid said.