The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to shutter the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington and threaten punitive measures against any anti-Israeli action by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton is scheduled to make the announcement in his speech, “Protecting American Constitutionalism and Sovereignty from International Threats,” to the conservative group Federalist Society on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday night.
“The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel,” national security adviser John Bolton plans to say, according a draft of his prepared remarks reviewed by the WSJ.
“The Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” Bolton would say.
Bolton is going to say that closing down the office addresses congressional concerns that Palestinians might succeed in prompting an ICC investigation of Israel.
Bolton is also expected to threaten imposing harsh sanctions against the ICC in case it decides to move ahead with requests to investigate the U.S. and Israel.
The U.S. is worried that the ICC might go after American military personnel for their actions in Afghanistan.
“If the court comes after us, Israel or other allies, we will not sit quietly,” Bolton is expected to say.
According to Bolton’s prepared remarks, Washington is prepared to ban ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the U.S. while going after the court’s bank accounts as well. Counter legal actions are also on the table.
“We will sanction their funds in the US financial system, and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system,” Bolton will say. “We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.”
The PLO office in Washington has long been a source of controversy.
In November last year, the Trump administration warned that it might close the office in reaction to a call by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for probing and prosecuting Israeli officials at the ICC and other international organizations.
Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official, responded back then that such a move would undermine prospects of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The PLO warned to cut all ties with the U.S. in case its mission was shuttered. The organization opened the office in 1994 and went on to join the ICC after receiving observer state status at the U.N. in 2012.
Earlier this year, Palestine asked the ICC to probe human rights violations linked to the Israeli regime’s illegal settlement activities on occupied Palestinian territories.
Talks of a possible ICC investigation into Israeli crimes against the people of Palestine have gained momentum over the past week, amid the Tel Aviv regime’s ongoing onslaught on anti-occupation protests in the Gaza Strip.
Nearly 175 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces ever since anti-occupation protest rallies began in the Gaza Strip on March 30. A total of 19,139 Palestinians have also sustained injuries.
The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day, or the Day of Catastrophe, which coincided this year with the U.S. embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Bolton is expected to say that while Washington is still committed to U.N.-brokered talks to end the conflict, the killings are justified and the ICC or other organizations should not undermine Israel’s ‘right to self-defense.’
“The United States supports a direct and robust peace process, and we will not allow the ICC, or any other organization, to constrain Israel’s right to self-defense,” he plans to say.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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