Bolton to ICC Judges: Go After US, and You'll Pay


Nauert's statement criticized the PLO's leadership for what she said was a refusal to engage with the US government on peace efforts.

Although the Israelis and Palestinians are not engaged in active, direct negotiations, Trump's administration has been working to mediate a peace deal that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"It is ironic that the USA is punishing the PLO, the national representative of the Palestinian people and the highest political body that made the commitment to reaching a political and legal settlement of the Palestinian question", she said, "and that has engaged in negotiations with successive U.S. administrations for decades".

The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) has announced a fresh push against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC), a day after the United States said it was closing its Washington mission and threatened to sanction the court's judges.

The ICC was established in 2002.

The court's aim is to bring to justice the perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

National security adviser John Bolton also lashed out at the Palestinians for their attempts to have Israel prosecuted at the ICC, denouncing the court's legitimacy and threatening sanctions if it targeted Israel and others.

The Trump administration is expected to announce Monday that it will close the Palestine Liberation Organization's office in Washington, administration officials said Sunday night, widening a US campaign of pressure amid stalled Middle East peace efforts.

The Clinton administration signed the Rome Statute that created the ICC but had serious concerns about the scope of the court's jurisdiction and never sought ratification by the Senate, where there was broad bipartisan opposition to what lawmakers saw as a threat to USA sovereignty. "We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States", Mr. Bolton said.

Husam Zomlot, the head of the Palestinian delegation to the USA, said that they are "not surprised".

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The PLO is a group in charge of the Palestinian people in the West Bank.

Earlier this month, the administration halted funding of the United Nations agency that supports Palestinian refugees.

"The ICC, as a court of law, will continue to do its work undeterred, in accordance with those principles and the overarching idea of the rule of law", the tribunal said in a statement.

"Such irresponsible moves are clear proof of American collusion with Israel's occupation", declared Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO's executive committee. Just last month, it cancelled more than $200 million in aid for projects in the West Bank and Gaza as well as the remainder of its planned assistance for the United Nations agency that helps Palestinian refugees around the Middle East. The U.S. government supplies almost 30 percent of the budget for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency.

The Trump Administration has tried to revive the Israeli-Palestinian talks, but it has also shown less tolerance for Palestinian resistance. The "PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel", says the State Department in justifying the office closure.

"Soon, South Africans will occupy [a seat] as a member of the Security Council and surely they will play a constructive role for building peace", he said.

The U.S. Defense Department objected to the possible probe and said it was committed to complying with the laws of war.

The Associated Press reported this story.

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