State Department announces closure of PLO mission in Washington

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday said that its work would continue "undeterred" after Washington threatened to prosecute its officials if Americans are charged with war crimes committed in Afghanistan.

In his first public address since joining the Trump administration in April, Bolton called the court "antithetical to our nation's ideals" and pledged to "use any means necessary" to protect the United States and its allies from "unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court".

Bolton is also expected to threaten U.S. sanctions against the International Criminal Court if it moves forward with a probe of alleged Israeli war crimes.

In November a year ago, then USA secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, cited a provision in a U.S. law that meant the PLO mission must close if the Palestinians try to get the worldwide criminal court (ICC) to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians.

Based in the Hague, Netherlands, the court was created in 2002 with the objective of prosecuting perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

The national security adviser outlined a list of harsh retaliatory measures if the ICC decides to pursue prosecution: Court personnel would be banned from traveling to the United States, slapped with financial sanctions, and prosecuted by the Justice Department.

US national security adviser John Bolton blasted the International Criminal Court Monday, calling it "contrary to American principles", "outright dangerous" and "ineffective".

He said the ICC could formally open the investigation "any day now".

He added that the United States would "not allow the ICC, or any other organisation, to constrain Israel's right to self-defence" or to "defend citizens from terrorist attacks". We will provide no assistance to the ICC and we certainly will not join the ICC.

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"In secular terms we don't recognize any higher authority than the U.S. constitution", he said, adding that Trump "will not allow American citizens to be prosecuted by foreign bureaucrats, and he will not allow other nations to dictate our means of self defence". At that time, at the direction of then-President George W. Bush, the US unsigned the statute that created the court. It is a "dangerous escalation shows that the U.S.is willing to disband the global system".

National security adviser John Bolton calls on a reporter during a news conference after speaking at a Federalist Society luncheon at the Mayflower Hotel, Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, in Washington. The national security adviser said it was no coincidence he made his speech on the ICC one day before the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Israel, like the United States, is not a signatory to the ICC and said the body lacked jurisdiction.

The court angered the U.S. by revealing it wanted to investigate American servicemen over alleged detainee abuse in Afghanistan.

In addition to threatening sanctions against the ICC, Bolton will reportedly announce the closure of the D.C. office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

"It is ironic that the United States 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 and that has engaged in negotiations with successive USA administrations for decades", said Ashrawi, a PLO executive committee member. It's meant to apply pressure to the Palestinians who have bogged down peace talks with Israel.

If the global body doesn't listen, the Trump administration could ban ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the country.

In a written statement, ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said the decision "is another display of US losing impartiality on the Middle East peace process".

South Africa has always positioned itself in its foreign policy as an ally to Palestine, and advocates for a two-state solution in the region.

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