The United Nations Security Council on Friday unanimously condemned the killing of Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while covering an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank, diplomats said.
The statement -- a rare case of Security Council unity on an issue related to Israel -- also called for "an immediate, thorough, transparent, and impartial investigation into her killing."
According to diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity, the negotiations on the text were particularly arduous.
China successfully pushed the United States to remove paragraphs denouncing abuses committed against the media around the world, defending their freedom and urging their protection while covering military operations, according to diplomatic sources and different versions of the declaration obtained by AFP during the discussions.
The final text merely says that "journalists should be protected as civilians" and does not mention violence during the Friday funeral for Abu Akleh.
Television footage showed pallbearers struggling to stop Abu Akleh's coffin from falling to the ground as baton-wielding Israeli police officers charged at them, grabbing Palestinian flags from mourners.
Abu Akleh, a star journalist for Al Jazeera, was killed as she covered unrest in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.
The Qatar-based network alleged that she was deliberately targeted by Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett initially said that armed Palestinians were "likely" responsible, but Israel has since walked back the allegation and said it was investigating.
Israel called for a joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority. 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 Security Council 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," calling 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.