Published: Mon, September 10, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

US closes Palestinian mission in Washington

US closes Palestinian mission in Washington

The United States has said it will adopt an aggressive posture against the International Criminal Court (ICC), and threatened sanctions against ICC judges if they proceed with an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Americans in Afghanistan.

Bolton's draft text says the United States will not cooperate with the ICC, and that if it does investigate US actions in Afghanistan then the Trump administration will consider travel bans, asset freezes and possible prosecution in USA courts for the judges and prosecutors involved in the probe.

"And, today, reflecting Congressional concerns with Palestinian attempts to prompt an ICC investigation of Israel, the State Department will announce the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization office here in Washington, D.C".

The United States is to close the Palestinian mission in Washington, in the latest move by president Donald Trump, who is trying to force the Palestinians to negotiate, an official said on Monday. They described the planned PLO mission closure as the latest pressure tactic by a Trump administration that has slashed funding to a United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees and to hospitals in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as capital of a future state.

Erekat added: "We reiterate that the rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale, that we will not succumb to U.S. threats and bullying and that we will continue our legitimate struggle for freedom, justice, and independence, including by all political and legal means possible".

"Accordingly, we continue to call upon the International Criminal Court to open its immediate investigation into Israeli crimes".

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Bolton's speech comes as the Trump administration is shuttering the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, a controversial move that Bolton confirmed in his speech. The planned address will be his first since joining the Trump White House.

The prosecutor for the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, called for an investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, where USA troops have been engaged in conflict for almost 17 years. "We will provide no assistance to the ICC".

The Trump administration's stance against the ICC-also referred to as The Hague, after the city in the Netherlands where it is headquartered-isn't particularly surprising. And we certainly will not join the ICC. The ICC was established in 2002 by the Rome Statute, but that treaty was never ratified by the U.S. The court "constitutes a direct assault on the concept of national sovereignty, especially that of constitutional, representative governments like the United States", he wrote in a Journal op-ed last November.

If the ICC does come after the U.S., Israel, or any allies, Bolton said the U.S. will not sit quietly.

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, likewise derided the Trump administration move. Those crimes should be investigated and all responsible parties punished, even if the ICC-which already has a hard time holding war criminals accountable-isn't right for the job. "Overall, the decision puts the health of five million Palestinians at risk".

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