Trump Administration Will Declare 'Superfluous' International Criminal Court at The Hague 'Illegitimate'

Leroy Wright
September 12, 2018

Trump's national security advisor John Bolton is expected to announce the closure in a speech Monday, along with the U.S. government's plans to impose sanctions on the ICC if it proceeds with investigations against the United States or Israel, The Washington Post reported, citing an advanced copy of Bolton's speech.

The United States announced on Monday (Sep 10) it will shutter the Palestinians' mission in Washington, accusing them of rebuffing peace talks with Israel. According to the Journal, Bolton will claim the Palestinians aren't sufficiently committed to negotiating a long-term peace agreement with Israel. She said the Taliban and its affiliated Haqqani network, as well as the Afghan National Security Forces, would also be investigated.

"Americans can rest assured that the United States will not provide any form of legitimacy or support to this body", Bolton said in prepared remarks at an event organized by the Federalist Society in Washington, D.C. "The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court", Bolton continued.

"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", said Nauert.

The US is among dozens of nations not to have joined the court, founded in 2002.

Last November, the ICC's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda of Gambia, said she may investigate what she called "war crimes by members of the United States armed forces" and "secret detention facilities in Afghanistan" used by the Central Intelligence Agency, particularly in 2003 and 2004.

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Team Trump's consistent disdain for the "soft power" of multilateral institutions and diplomacy, which has been a bulwark of US foreign policy since World War II, is going to undermine this country for years after Trump and Bolton leave Washington.

Meanwhile, late last month the US announced it is permanently cutting funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or Unrwa, a primary source of Palestinian financial support for decades. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us. United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley said the Palestinians' major demand - for millions of their refugees and descendants to return to lost homes in Israel - should be ruled out, and called for increased pressure on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The decision follows an extended period of estrangement between the Palestinian Authority government on the West Bank and the administration, which has already canceled most US aid to Palestinians and recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

While the U.S. had initially been a signatory, it later withdrew its support for the institution.

Palestinian leaders say the administration is blatantly biased in favor of Israel and is seeking to blackmail them into accepting the White House's moves. The office has been instructed to close no later than October 10.

The United States is not a member of the global tribunal that is based in the Netherlands, but American citizens can still face prosecution if they commit war crimes in one of the court's member states, which includes Afghanistan. Countries that cooperate with ICC prosecutions against the United States and its allies risk losing foreign aid. The department noted the decision "is also consistent with administration and congressional concerns" over Palestinian requests that the ICC investigate Israel. It's less clear why they'd provoke the U.S. directly at the same time, especially with Bolton and Donald Trump making those decisions. However, such a deal is unlikely given Palestinian mistrust of his administration.

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