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

ICC is dead to us’ US to use ‘any means’ to shield citizens & allies from war crime probes

On Monday, Bolton said the United States would resort to any means to protect its citizens and its allies against actions before the global war crimes body, including arresting its judges if they sought to charge Americans who served in Afghanistan with war crimes. "And, today, reflecting Congressional concerns with Palestinian attempts to prompt an ICC investigation of Israel, the State Department will announce the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization office here in Washington, D.C".

The draft speech says the Trump administration "will fight back" if the ICC proceeds with opening an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by USA service members and intelligence professionals during the war in Afghanistan.

He said ICC judges and prosecutors would be banned from coming to the US, their assets in USA jurisdictions would be frozen and they would face prosecution.

The Hague-based court investigates genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes and is backed by 123 countries - but not by China and the US.

"We will take note if any countries cooperate with ICC investigations of the United States and its allies, and we will remember that cooperation when setting U.S. foreign assistance, military assistance, and intelligence sharing levels", he said.

He said the United States does not oppose holding war criminals accountable, but rather they should "face charges by sovereign national governments" if crimes are alleged.

The White House issued a severe rebuke to the International Criminal Court on September 10 and threatened to retaliate if the supranational body's personnel and abettors prosecute citizens of the United States or its allies.

Bolton said the main objection is the idea the ICC could have higher authority than the USA constitution and U.S. sovereignty.

The national security adviser's announcement drew applause from the crowd.

The Federalist Society is a conservative legal group that has supported the nomination and confirmation process of both Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

"We will not cooperate with the ICC".

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His comments followed the closure of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's office in Washington on Monday.

Mr Bolton said: "We will not co-operate with the ICC".

The Trump administration vows to protect Americans from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court amid its possible probe into USA actions in Afghanistan. He was previously the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the George W Bush government and fought against the ICC in the 2000s.

"Israel supports the American actions that are meant to clarify to the Palestinians that their refusal to negotiate and attempts to attack Israel in global forums will not promote peace", he added.

"We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians since the expiration of a previous waiver in November 2017", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

Germany's foreign ministry said on Twitter that "we are committed to the work of the ICC - in particular when it comes under fire". "We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans". It's meant to apply pressure to the Palestinians who have bogged down peace talks with Israel.

The State Department on August 31 severed all funding to UNRWA, the agency responsible for providing millions of Palestinian refugees with education and healthcare, saying it would examine other approaches.

Mr Bolton said the Palestinian move was one of the reasons the USA administration had made a decision to close the Palestinians' diplomatic mission in Washington.

A Palestinian academic based in the Swiss city of Geneva said the United States move "should not come as a surprise".

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

Australia signed a treaty in 2002 ratifying its membership of the court.

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