Bolton, a former US Ambassador to the United Nations, will lay out a new campaign Monday to punish countries and individuals that try to prosecute American personnel, the US or its allies — in particular Israel — at the ICC, the official said.
Bolton will call for the protection of such allies “by any means necessary” against the jurisdiction of the Netherlands-based court, which the US does not recognize.
The measures could include travel bans on ICC judges and prosecutors and a freeze on their assets, as well as those of other entities trying to bring the US to the court, the official said. Any countries that assist prosecutions risk losing foreign aid.
The potential prosecution of US service members in Afghanistan is of primary importance to the administration, the official said.
Bolton is also set to announce the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, the official said. Bolton is expected to tie its closing to the Palestinians’ refusal to engage in the peace process and to threats by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to take Israel to the ICC.
The PLO slammed the US administration in advance of the expected announcement, and said it had already been notified by the White House of the decision.
“This dangerous escalation shows that the US is willing to disband the international system in order to protect Israeli crimes and attacks against the land and people of Palestine, as well as against peace and security in the rest of our region,” PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat said in a statement.
“It is also 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,” fellow PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement.
Over the weekend, the US announced it would redirect $25 million originally planned for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network as part of its review of US aid to Palestinians.
Six hospitals will be affected including the Lutheran World Federation’s (LWF) Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), which serves over 5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, according to the hospital’s website. The AVH also provides specialized care not available in the Palestinian territories including radiation therapy for cancer patients and pediatric hemodialysis, according to the website.
In a statement posted online, the LWF said it regretted the US announcement on the hospitals, adding that funding for the facilities was critically important.
“The funding to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network is critical to ensure ongoing, lifesaving treatment for patients from the West Bank and Gaza,” said Rev. Dr, Martin Junge, LWF general secretary. “We call on the US Administration and the US Congress, in the spirit of the exemption introduced in the Taylor Force Act, and the international community to urgently address this critical situation to ensure that the lifesaving treatments can continue uninterrupted.”