Published: Tue, September 11, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

State Department announces closure of PLO mission in Washington

State Department announces closure of PLO mission in Washington

Bolton's speech, on the eve of the anniversary of the September 11 attack, came as an ICC judge was expected to soon announce a decision on a request from prosecutors to formally open an investigation into allegations of war crimes committed by Afghan national security forces, Taliban and Haqqani network militants and USA forces and intelligence in Afghanistan since May 2003.

National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks at a Federalist Society luncheon at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, Sept. 10, 2018.

National Security Adviser John Bolton on Monday made the unprecedented move of threatening the International Criminal Court if it follows through with investigations of alleged war crimes committed by United States troops and intelligence officials in Afghanistan.

The United States will withdraw all support from the International Criminal Court, National Security Adviser John Bolton announced Monday, condemning the body as an "assault" on the U.S. Constitution and American sovereignty. Refusing to cooperate with the ICC because you think it sets a bad precedent for national sovereignty is one thing. We will certainly not join the ICC.

The Palestinians have said they will not buckle to Mr Trump's pressure and will continue to push on with their bid for an ICC investigation against Israel.

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He also cited a recent move by Palestinian leaders to have Israeli officials prosecuted at the ICC for human rights violations, identifying it as a reason for a decision earlier Monday to close the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington.

"The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel", it quoted Bolton's draft text as saying. At that time, at the direction of then-President George W. Bush, the US unsigned the statute that created the court.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the move "part of the open war waged by the United States administration and its Zionist team against our Palestinian people, their cause and just and legitimate rights".

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

Husam Zomlot, head of the PLO mission in Washington, called the closure of the office "bullying and blackmailing" and said the USA government was "blindly executing Israel's 'wish list'". Those crimes should be investigated and all responsible parties punished, even if the ICC-which already has a hard time holding war criminals accountable-isn't right for the job.

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"President Donald Trump is closing the Palestine Liberation Organization's mission in Washington, the latest USA blow against the Palestinians and an global court during the stalled Mideast peace process", writes the Associated Press.

"We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians", State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement Monday. "We will sanction their funds in the USA financial system, and, we will prosecute them in the USA criminal system".

The statements by the State Department and Bolton come as the US government has increased pressure on the Palestinians to get involved in peace efforts.

They deemed the planned PLO mission closure a new pressure tactic by a Trump administration that has slashed funding to a United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees and to hospitals in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as capital of a future state. Bush's Democratic successor, Barack Obama, took some steps to cooperate with it.

It accuses the Palestinian leadership of condemning a yet-to-be-released Trump administration plan to forge peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

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