Donald Trump's administration closes Palestinian mission in Washington DC

Arindam

Bolton's speech will also announce Washington's plans to close the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office over concerns that it is attempting to prompt an ICC investigation of Israel.

"We will not cooperate with the ICC", Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton (photo) will say in a hard-hitting speech to a far right wing group, the Federalist Society.

There was no immediate response from Israel, where government offices were closed for the Jewish new year.

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton called the Hague-based rights body "unaccountable" and "outright dangerous" to the United States, Israel and other allies, and said any probe of U.S. service members would be "an utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation".

The United States isn't a party to the ICC and Congress granted authority to US presidents in 2002 to use any means necessary, including the use of force, to protect USA citizens from prosecution by the court.

The possibility that the International Criminal Court might prosecute U.S. citizens for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan and a Palestinian attempt to hold Israel to account at the ICC are reported to have prompted the United States to move against the court. Israel, like the United States, is not a signatory to the ICC and said the body lacked jurisdiction.

Although the USA does not recognise Palestinian statehood, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which formally represents Palestinians, has maintained a "general delegation" office in Washington.

The International Criminal Court was created to adjudicate international war crimes and acts of terrorism. The penalty of such violation is closing down of the office in Washington.

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




The State Department accused the leadership of condemning "a USA peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the U.S. government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise". 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 U.S. aid to such nations.

"We reiterate that the rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale, that we will not succumb to USA threats and bullying", Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat said in a statement to news organizations in advance of Bolton's speech.

The move follows a year of USA action that includes cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Palestinians and recognising Jerusalem, a city that is territorially contested, as Israel's capital.

"We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans", Bolton said.

The United States signed but never ratified the 2002 Rome Treaty that established the International Criminal Court. We certainly will not join the ICC.

But the Palestinians have accused the Trump administration of being one-sided in its approach.

Led by Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and a senior aide, White House officials have been preparing a peace proposal they intend to put forward at an unspecified time.

The Palestine Liberation Organization quickly denounced the decision, calling it "the use of cheap blackmail as a political tool".

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