The Trump administration has threatened tough action against the International Criminal Court should it try to prosecute Americans for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.
It also said the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s office in Washington would be closed for seeking to punish Israel through the court.
“The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” national security adviser John Bolton told the Federalist Society, a conservative group, on Monday.
It was his first major address since joining US President Donald Trump’s White House in April.
The American response could include sanctions against ICC judges should such prosecutions proceed, Bolton warned.
The Palestinians said they were undeterred from going to the ICC.
“We reiterate that the rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale, that we will not succumb to U.S. threats and bullying,” Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said.
“Accordingly, we continue to call upon the International Criminal Court to open its immediate investigation into Israeli crimes.”
Israel welcomed the Trump administration’s move, accusing the Palestinians of using the court to sidestep peace talks.
“It is good that the United States is taking a clear stand on this matter,” said an Israeli official.
Bolton said the Trump administration “will fight back” if the ICC proceeds with opening an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by US service members and intelligence professionals during the war in Afghanistan.
“The ICC prosecutor has requested to investigate these Americans for alleged detainee abuse, and perhaps more – an utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation,” he said.
If such an inquiry goes ahead, the Trump administration will consider banning judges and prosecutors from entering the United States, put sanctions on any funds they have in the US financial system and prosecute them in American courts, Bolton said.
“We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us,” he said.
The court’s aim is to bring to justice the perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
© AP 2018