Published: Tue, September 11, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Bolton To Set Out Tough U.S. Stance On International Criminal Court

Bolton To Set Out Tough U.S. Stance On International Criminal Court

Palestinian officials on Monday condemned the Trump administration's decision to shutter the Washington, D.C. office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)-part of a broader effort to block International Criminal Court (ICC) probes into US or Israeli war crimes-as "crude and vicious blackmail", and vowed to continue calling for ICC investigations.

The U.S. has also been angered by a Palestinian bid to have Israel investigated for war crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Bolton said the US would "not sit quietly" if the ICC came after it, Israel or other USA allies.

"We will not cooperate with the ICC", Bolton said at an event Monday hosted by the conservative Federalist Society. Israel, like the U.S., is not a signatory to the ICC and said the body lacked jurisdiction.

"I don´t think that the actions we have taken are at all inconsistent with our objective of peace between Israel and the Palestinians", he said. "The United States supports a direct and robust process, and we will not allow the ICC or any other organization to constrain Israel's right to self-defense". "After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us", he said.

Bush's first administration then embarked on a diplomatic drive to get countries who were members of the ICC to sign so-called Article 98 agreements that would bar those nations from prosecuting Americans before the court under penalty of sanctions.

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Mr. Bolton also announced the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington because of its calls for an ICC inquiry into Israel. Bolton added that there "no evidence that the PLO office in Washington contributed to diplomacy" and argued the decision "will have ultimately a positive impact on the potential for discussion among the parties as it eliminates unrealistic expectations that at least some of the parties have".

"The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel".

The US signed the Rome Treaty that established the International Criminal Court in 2002 but never ratified it.

The ICC aims to bring to justice the perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Last November, the ICC's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said the court would investigate "war crimes by members of the United States armed forces" and "secret detention facilities in Afghanistan" used by the Central Intelligence Agency.

"The PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel", Heather Nauert, the spokesperson for the State Department, said in a statement.

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The Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Palestinians would "continue to call upon the global criminal court to open its immediate investigation into Israeli crimes". Palestinian Authority officials have said they plan on doing just that in the coming weeks.

Bolton said the announcement about ending all involvement with and support for the ICC put the USA stance in the "public record".

Washington's decision is the latest move by US President Donald Trump's administration to close and defund pro-Palestinian institutions.

Bolton said on Monday that the USA will impose sanctions on court officials who attempt to investigate either the U.S. or Israel.

"We negotiated about 100 binding, bilateral agreements to prevent other countries from delivering USA personnel to the ICC", Bolton said.

The decision follows an extended period of estrangement between the Palestinian Authority government on the West Bank and the administration, which has already canceled most USA aid to Palestinians and recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

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