USA to close Palestinian mission in Washington

Cheryl Sanders
September 10, 2018

The United States will threaten to impose sanctions on International Criminal Court (ICC) judges if they go ahead with an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by US personnel in Afghanistan, Reuters reports.

"The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court", Bolton will say at an event hosted by the right-wing Federalist Society, according to a speech draft viewed by Reuters.

Citing anonymous Trump administration officials, the Washington Post reported that Bolton is also expected to announce that the "shutting down a Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington because Palestinians have sought to use the global court to prosecute US ally Israel".

If the investigation continues anyway, Bolton's speech says the Trump administration could take steps to ban prosecutors and judges from the US, and could also sanction an USA -based funds.

Mr Trump has since pledged to withhold aid from the Palestinians until they return to the negotiating table as his White House seeks to craft a plan for Middle East peace - what he has called the "ultimate deal".

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat said in a statement before the official announcement that "the rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale".

The Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Palestinians would "continue to call upon the global criminal court to open its immediate investigation into Israeli crimes".

"Lowering the flag of Palestine in Washington DC means much more than a new slap by the Trump Administration against peace and justice", Erekat said. The Trump administration will threaten to prosecute ICC judges if they proceed with a case involving American forces in Afghanistan. "Such policies are a matter of concern worldwide as they attest [to the fact] that the United States has joined Israel in blatantly violating the will of the global community and creating conditions for disorder and instability throughout the Middle East region and beyond".

If such an inquiry goes ahead, the Trump administration will consider banning judges and prosecutors from entering the United States, put sanctions on any funds they have in the USA financial system and prosecute them in American courts.

"We will not co-operate with the ICC. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us", the draft text says.

"The United States continues to believe that direct negotiations between the two parties are the only way forward", the statement adds. At that time, at the direction of then President George W. Bush, the US unsigned the statute that created the court.

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

His foreign minister later asked the ICC chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to open an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity, and apartheid.

The move comes after several financial measures the Trump administration has taken toward the Palestinians. "Overall, the decision puts the health of five million Palestinians at risk".

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