Bolton says international court 'dead to us'

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"President Donald Trump is closing the Palestine Liberation Organization's mission in Washington, the latest US blow against the Palestinians and an worldwide court during the stalled Mideast peace process", writes the Associated Press.

The U.S.'s rebuttal of the ICC Monday was paired with the Trump administration's closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization's office in Washington.

He said a United States official had earlier notified the Palestinian leadership that its diplomatic mission would be closed, which he said was "yet another affirmation of the Trump administration's policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people, including by cutting financial support for humanitarian services including health and education".

That includes a push to have the International Criminal Court investigate Israel for possible war crimes against the Palestinian people.

Husam Zomlot, head of the PLO mission in Washington, called the closure of the office "bullying and blackmailing" and said the USA government was "blindly executing Israel's 'wish list'".

"Americans can rest assured that the United States will not provide any form of legitimacy or support to this body", Bolton said in prepared remarks at an event organized by the Federalist Society in Washington, D.C. We will not join the ICC.

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The Rome statute that created the ICC was signed by the Clinton administration but it had concerns about the scope of the court's jurisdiction. For months, progress on this front has been devolving, with Israel refusing to deal with a side that is beholden to terrorists and the Palestinians deciding willy nilly that the U.S.

Neither the USA nor Israel participates in the treaty that established the International Criminal Court, AKA "The Hague", which means that it takes an act of the UN Security Council to charge nationals of either nation (and other non-signatories).

"America is a sovereign Nation and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens", Trump said in a statement that accompanied the censure of the ICC.

The draft speech says the Trump administration "will fight back" if the ICC proceeds with opening an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by United States service members and intelligence professionals during the war in Afghanistan.

Set up in 2002, the court was meant to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

The Human Rights Watch also stated that any attempts by the interfere with the investigation "would demonstrate that the administration was more concerned with coddling serial rights abusers - and deflecting scrutiny of United States conduct in Afghanistan - than supporting impartial justice". Israel, like the United States, is not a signatory to the ICC and said the body lacked jurisdiction. And we certainly will not join the ICC.

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In recent weeks, the United States cut more than $200 million in bilateral aid to the Palestinians and canceled its support for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

However, ICC prosecutors also have the ability to take independent action, although any prosecutions must be approved by a panel of judges.

Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton said Monday the "extraordinarily ambitious" plan is still being revised and the administration is seeking an ideal time to reveal it. PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said the USA policy was unfair.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents several people who claim they were detained and tortured in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2008 and could be victims or witnesses in any ICC prosecution, said Bolton's threats were "straight out of an authoritarian playbook".

When George W Bush became president in 2001, Mr Bolton sought and received permission to travel to NY to ceremonially "unsign" the document at the United Nations.

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