U.S. Pulls Out of Vienna Treaty Following Palestinian Lawsuit Over Embassy Move

In this Feb. 28, 2018 photo, President Donald Trump pauses during a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, in Washington, with members of congress to discuss school and community safety. A White House official says President Donald Trump plans to announce Thursday whether he'll impose tariffs or …
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

TEL AVIV — President Donald Trump has decided that the U.S. will withdraw from the optional protocol and dispute resolution to the Vienna Convention in connection with an attempt by the Palestinians to sue the U.S. government at the International Court of Justice in The Hague over Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. 

“This is in connection with a case brought from the so-called State of Palestine naming the United States as a defendant, challenging our move of our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.

“I’d like to stress the United States remains a party to the underlying Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and we expect all other parties to abide by their international obligations under the convention.”

“Our actions today deal with the treaties and current litigation involving the United States before the International Court of Justice,” Bolton said. “Given this history, and Iran’s abuse of the ICJ, we will commence a review of all international agreements that may still expose the United States to purported binding jurisdiction and dispute resolution in the International Court of Justice.”

He added: “The United States will not sit idly by as baseless politicized claims are brought against us.”

Bolton’s announcement came hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the U.S. was terminating a 1955 amity treaty with Tehran after the latter cited it in an international court ruling against sanctions imposed by the Trump administration. The Hague-based International Court of Justice ruled in Tehran’s favor, saying the sanctions violated the amity agreement.

In September, the Palestinians filed a case at the same court ordering the U.S. to walk back its decision to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Bolton said that the U.S.’s decision “really has less to do with Iran and the Palestinians than with the continued consistent policy of the United States to reject the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, which we think is politicized and ineffective.”

Asked why he referred to Palestine as a “so-called state,” Bolton said, “It’s accurate. It is not a state.”

“It’s not a state now,” he continued. “It does not meet the customary international law test of statehood. It doesn’t control defined boundaries, it doesn’t fulfill the normal functions of government. There’s a whole host of reasons why it is not a state. It could become a state, as the president has said. But that requires diplomatic negotiations with Israel and others.”

“We’ve been working as you well know on a peace plan,” Bolton told reporters. “We’ll be rolling it out in due course when we decide it’s the most appropriate time to do it.”

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