Trump administration to threaten ICC judges with sanctions, prosecution

US threatens to arrest ICC judges who probe war crimes

The US State Department has announced it is ordering the closure of the Washington mission of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), a move that has drawn strong reaction from Palestinians.

Donald Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, said the United States would not "sit quietly" if the ICC came after it, Israel, or other U.S. allies.

A draft speech that U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton is scheduled to give before the conservative Federalist Society in Washington takes a hard stance against the court.

The Trump administration had threatened to close the mission in November and the head of the Palestinian mission in Washington, Husam Zumlot, had for months been rendered a forlorn figure in the Capitol until he was recalled in December.

Bolton said Monday the United States has dismissed the International Criminal Court as "illegitimate" and it will sanction the organization's judges if they pursue an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by American soldiers and intelligence officials in Afghanistan.

The United States will consider prohibiting judges and prosecutors from with the court in The Hague from entering the United States, imposing sanctions on any funds they have in the USA financial system, and prosecuting them in US courts, it says. That's not all: "We will sanction their funds in the USA financial system, and we will prosecute them in the USA criminal system", Bolton will say, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"We will not cooperate with the ICC".

"Accordingly, we continue to call upon the International Criminal Court to open its immediate investigation into Israeli crimes", he stated. The penalty of such violation is closing down of the office in Washington.

Palestinian officials on Monday condemned the Trump administration's decision to shutter the Washington, D.C. office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)-part of a broader effort to block International Criminal Court (ICC) probes into US or Israeli war crimes-as "crude and vicious blackmail", and vowed to continue calling for ICC investigations. "We are not retreating from our efforts to achieve a lasting and comprehensive peace".

"We will respond against the ICC and its personnel to the extent permitted by USA law", he said. He promised to "take notes" of the countries cooperating with the ICC, warning that such behavior will affect their relations with the USA and might result in slashing the United States aid to such nations.

Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said the move 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".

The Palestine Liberation Organization, commonly known as the PLO, formally represents all Palestinians.

The Trump administration has exited three of Obama's signature global-governance achievements: the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the Paris Agreement, and the Iran deal.

It will be Bolton's first major address since joining the Trump White House. Over the weekend, it announced it would cut $25 million in assistance for hospitals in east Jerusalem that provide critical care to Palestinian patients.

He has also sided with Israel on core issues in the conflict, such as recognising the disputed city of Jerusalem as its capital, while publicly asking for no concessions in return.

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.

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