U.S. announces closure of Palestinian mission in DC

"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.

National Security Adviser John Bolton was expected to address Monday's decision in a speech later in the day focused on USA policy toward the ICC.

"The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel", Bolton said on Monday.

It's official: the Palestinian Liberation Organization office in Washington D.C.is being shut down by the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton (C), is reported to be planning to warn the United States "will fight back" if the International Criminal Court formally proceeds with opening an investigation into alleged United States war crimes in Afghanistan. The Obama administration had expanded cooperation with the court after former President George W. Bush signed a 2002 law that prohibits all government entities from cooperating with it, and authorizes the president "to use all means necessary" to force the release of any US or allied person detained by or on behalf of the court. A provision in a USA law says the PLO mission must close if the peace process does not go forward.

"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.

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

He is also set to threaten the Hague-based International Criminal Court with sanctions if it investigates the usa and Israel, the WSJ reported. The penalty of such violation is closing down of the office in Washington. To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a U.S. peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the United States government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise.

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Palestine joined the ICC in 2012 after receiving an observer state status in the United Nations.

Potential measures include barring ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the USA and freezing any funds they have in the United States.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat described the decision as "yet another affirmation of the Trump Administration's policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people".

The administration had told the Palestinians past year that closure was a distinct possibility unless they agreed to sit to down with the Israelis. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us. The ICC was established in 2002 by the Rome Statute, but that treaty was never ratified by the U.S. The organization opened the office in 1994 and went on to join the ICC after receiving observer state status at the United Nations in 2012.

The Palestinians accused the administration of dismantling decades of US engagement with them. It will be his first major address since joining the Trump White House.

The Palestine Liberation Organization office served as an embassy in Washington, D.C., for Palestinians.

The move follows a year of United States action that includes cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Palestinians and recognising Jerusalem, a city that is territorially contested, as Israel's capital.

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