USA threatens to arrest ICC judges over war crimes probe

Trump administration to close Palestinian leadership's office in a bid to mount pressure over peace deal

"The International Criminal Court unacceptably threatens American sovereignty and us national security interests", Bolton told the Federalist Society, a conservative Washington-based think tank.

The Bolton speech today isolates the United States from worldwide criminal justice and severely undermines our leadership in bringing perpetrators of atrocity crimes to justice elsewhere in the world....

Bolton said the USA would "not sit quietly" if the ICC came after it, Israel or other US allies.

An ICC judge is expected to announce soon whether an investigation will be opened into allegations of war crimes committed by Afghan national security forces, Taliban and Haqqani network militants, and USA forces and intelligence in Afghanistan since May 2003.

The United States is pledging to use "any means necessary" to protect American citizens and allies from International Criminal Court prosecution. Israel, like the United States, is not a signatory to the ICC and said the body lacked jurisdiction.

"The Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to take steps to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel", he said. In 2011, under the Obama administration, the United States started letting the Palestinians fly their flag over the office, an upgrade to the status of their mission that the Palestinians hailed as historic.

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But Bolton said the main objection of the administration of President Donald Trump is to the idea that the ICC could have higher authority than the US Constitution and US sovereignty. "We will not join the ICC", he added. Neither Afghanistan nor any other government party to the ICC's Rome Statute has requested an investigation, Bolton said.

Bolton said the U.S. would "take note" of other countries' cooperation with the ICC and "will remember that cooperation when settling United States foreign assistance, military assistance, and intelligence sharing levels".

Bolton said the ICC "was created as a free-wheeling global organization claiming jurisdiction over individuals without their consent" and stressed longstanding concerns that American servicemembers could be indicted by the court.

He said the PLO leadership has instead "condemned a yet-to-be-seen United States peace plan and "refused to engage with the United States government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise".

National Security Advisor John Bolton will assert US opposition to the ICC probe in a speech, a draft of which was seen by the news agency. The U.S. has notified the Palestinians it's closing their mission, September 10, 2018, the latest in a series of American blows to the Palestinians.

The State Department announced this month that the United States is ending its decades of funding for the U.N. agency that helps Palestinian refugees.

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Then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson deemed the PLO responsible for violating a provision in US law that prohibits the group from trying to get the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians.

Bolton, one of the most hawkish members of Trump's administration, is expected to make the unprecedented attack on the ICC in what appears to be a pre-emptive threat to block the court from investing war crimes committed by the USA during its Afghan campaign as well as to protect its ally, Israel. After he left the Bush administration, the White House showed a little less resistance to the court's work, even expressing support for its investigation of atrocities in Darfur ...

PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat slammed the Trump administration's decision to close the offices; accusing the White House of protecting Israeli "war criminals" and "destroying the two-state solution".

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.

On Saturday, it was announced President Trump had cut $25million in aid for Palestinians in East Jerusalem hospitals, with that cash sent instead to 'high-priority projects elsewhere'.

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