18:21 GMT18 January 2021
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    The decision by John Bolton, the national security adviser to US President Donald Trump, to threaten sanctions against the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday highlights the belief that the US is exempt from being punished for its war crimes, Ali Abunimah, the co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, told Sputnik.

    Bolton's announcement came as a result of reports that the ICC is considering whether to prosecute US servicemembers over alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity that were committed in Afghanistan.

    "The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court," Bolton told officials at a meeting of the Federalist Society. "We will not cooperate with the ICC, we will provide no assistance to the ICC, and we certainly will not join the ICC."

    "We will consider taking steps in the UN Security Council to constrain the Court's sweeping powers, including ensuring that the ICC does not exercise jurisdiction over Americans and the nationals of our allies that have not ratified the Rome Statute," Bolton added.

    The ICC, which was established in 2002, has the power to prosecute persons for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. The US never ratified the Rome Statute, which established the court.

    ​Abunimah told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Monday that Bolton's comments are "a continuation of that US tradition of demanding total impunity for itself and, of course, for its vassal, Israel."

    "It indicates just the utter contempt the US continues to have under Trump, as it did under [former US President Barack] Obama and under [former US President] George W. Bush, for any kind of international system or constraint," Abunimah told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou. "The so-called rules-based order… has never in fact existed as far as the US is concerned."

    After referring to the ICC as an "illegitimate court" and proclaiming that it is "dead" to the US, Bolton went on to reveal that the Washington office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) would be closed due to the group's involvement in an ICC inquiry into alleged Israeli war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza.

    Unlike the Obama administration, Abunimah said that the Trump White House is much more forward in regards to how it proceeds with what Israel desires from its American partner. "The Trump administration approach… it is removing, stripping away the pretense that the United States is anything other than an enemy to the Palestinian people," he said.

    Miko Peled, the author of "The General's Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine," told Kiriakou that the closure was just an add-on to the US' decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem in May and cut its contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

    The US decided to withhold the remainder of its yearly contribution, to the tune of some $200 million, to the agency late last month, a move that Peled says was done in order to force Palestinians to agree to whatever terms are put forth by the US and Israel on the Jewish state's settlements.

    "Now, closing the mission, there's this collaboration between Israel and US… in order to create the impression that there are no Palestinians, bring the Palestinians to the point where they are completely at the mercy of the United States and Israel and they will agree to whatever it is that the Americans come up with," he said. "I think it's an attempt to push them to a point where they will be so desperate that they will agree to everything; I doubt that that is going to be the result, however."

    At the end of the day, Peled told Kiriakou that the decision to close the Washington PLO office is just "one more step in unrecognizing anything that's been recognized in regards to the Palestinians."

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    International Criminal Court (ICC), Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), John Bolton, Israel, Washington, DC
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