Sept. 11 (UPI) — U.S. national security adviser John Bolton blasted the International Criminal Court Monday, calling it “contrary to American principles,” “outright dangerous” and “ineffective.”
In November, the ICC attempted to prosecute U.S. intelligence agents for war crimes in Afghanistan, action that Bolton said is an “utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation.” More recently, the court said it would investigate Israel’s housing projects in the West Bank. Adding to the tension, the “State of Palestine” is a recognized member of the court. The United States and Israel are not.
“United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” Bolton said in a speech to the Federalist Society, a group of conservatives and libertarians. “We will take note if any countries cooperate with ICC investigations of the United States and its allies, and will remember that cooperation when setting U.S. foreign assistance, military assistance and intelligence sharing levels.”
The Hague-based court could face tariffs and prosecution if it continues to threaten U.S. interests, Bolton added.
The United States will negotiate agreements with countries to prohibit them from surrendering a U.S. citizen to the ICC, Bolton said.
ICC judges could be banned from entering the United States while their money will be sanctioned in the U.S. financial system. The same would happen for companies that assist ICC investigations of U.S. citizens.
Bolton added that U.S. officials will work with the United Nations Security Council to limit the court’s sweeping powers. He also said the United States will stand Israel and cited the State Department’s recent closure of the Palestinian Liberation Organization office in Washington, D.C.
U.S. officials had hoped that having the office would lead to a lasting peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a U.S. peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the U.S. government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise,” department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement.
The PLO had harsh words following the closure of the Palestinian mission.
“This dangerous escalation shows that the U.S. is willing to disband the international system in order to protect Israeli war crimes and attacks against the land and people of Palestine, as well as against peace and security in the rest of our region,” Hanan Ashrawi, a PLO executive committee member, said in a statement. “It is extremely cruel and spiteful to persist in deliberately bashing the Palestinian people by denying them of their rights, giving away their lands and rightful capital of Jerusalem, and defunding UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees) and Palestinian institutions, including East Jerusalem hospitals.”
Under President Bill Clinton, the United States was part of the treaty to establish the ICC. By 2002, though, President George W. Bush withdrew just before the ICC was established. The Obama Administration had better relations with the court, though the United States never formally joined.