Published: Tue, September 11, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

John Bolton to take tough stance against ICC

John Bolton to take tough stance against ICC

Bolton said the Trump administration "will fight back" if the ICC proceeds with opening an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by usa service members and intelligence professionals during the war in Afghanistan.

"The Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to take steps to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel", National Security Advisor John Bolton said during a speech Monday.

In addition to threatening sanctions against the ICC, Bolton will reportedly announce the closure of the D.C. office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

"The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel", Bolton is expected to say, according to the prepared remarks.

Bolton pointed to an ICC prosecutor's request in November 2017 to open an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by the US military and intelligence officials in Afghanistan, especially over the abuse of detainees. He promised to "take notes" of the countries cooperating with the ICC, warning that such behavior will affect their relations with the U.S. and might result in slashing the United States aid to such nations.

The head of the PLO delegation to the US accused the Trump administration of "dismantling decades of USA vision and engagement in Palestine".

The Palestinians said they were undeterred from going to the ICC. Although the USA does not recognize Palestinian statehood, the PLO has maintained a "general delegation" office in Washington that facilitates Palestinian officials' interactions with the US government.

Bolton also condemned the record of the court since it formally started up in 2002, and argued that most major nations had not joined. The Obama administration had expanded cooperation with the court after former President George W. Bush signed a 2002 law that prohibits all government entities from cooperating with it, and authorizes the president "to use all means necessary" to force the release of any US or allied person detained by or on behalf of the court.

But Bolton said that if ICC prosecutors attempted to do so, the United States would target the global court's judges.

"We are not retreating from our efforts to achieve a lasting and comprehensive peace".

She said a move to block the complaints against U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and against Israel would show the USA "more concerned with coddling serial rights abusers. than supporting impartial justice".

The United States says the offices of the General Delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington should close.

In the past year, ICC has shown signs of being willing to bring cases against the United States for possible war crimes.

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. Bolton rejected the claims as "utterly unfounded" and unjustified.

The move on Monday comes amid deteriorating ties between the two sides in the wake of US President Donald Trump's controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital past year and the relocation of its embassy there.

"The United States continues to believe that direct negotiations between the two parties are the only way forward, " Nauert said in her statement.

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

"It's a much more real policy matter now because of the potential liability in Afghanistan", a senior Trump administration official tells The Washington Post. The PLO hasn't cooperated in the talks while pushing prosecution against Jerusalem with the ICC, prompting the order to shutter its offices.

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