Palestinians vow to double efforts against Israel in the U.S. and ICC

The United States announced its decision to immediately close the Palestine Liberation Organization’s diplomatic mission in Washington, citing the ongoing refusal of the Palestinian leadership to participate in U.S.-led efforts to broker a peace agreement with Israel. U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the decision followed a review of the office of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which centered on the fact that “no direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel are underway, despite previous warnings;” a decision condemned by the Palestinian leadership as the Trump Administration’s determination to continue its policies of blackmail and extortion. “We were notified officially that they will close the office and lower the Palestinian flag, this is an affirmation of the U.S. administration’s determination to continue its policies of blackmail and extortion and undermining the peace process and the two-state solution,” commented Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat. Meanwhile, President Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton, in an address to the Federalist Society in Washington, revealed that – among the other mentioned reasons – the decision to close the PLO office in Washington also took into account “Palestinian attempts to prompt an International Criminal Court investigation of Israel,” at a time when the judiciary separately looks-into civilian casualties and allegations of torture by the United States military in Afghanistan. The court’s decision to look into allegations against the U.S. that was announced last November, prompted a decision by the Trump Administration to end all cooperation with the International Court. “I ask everyone in this room today would you consign the fate of American citizens to a committee of other nations including Venezuela and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and entities that are not even states like the Palestinian Authority? You would not. I would not. And this administration will not,” U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton argued. Moreover, he stressed that “Today on the eve of September the 11th, I want to deliver a clear and unambiguous message on behalf of the president of the United States. The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court. 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 let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes the ICC is already dead to us.” In response to the American decision to close the PLO’s diplomatic mission in Washington, the head of the Palestinian delegation to the U.S. declared that the move would only motivate the Palestinians to double their efforts against Israel within the United States and legal international institutions. “This is a just a confirmation for us that we need to double our efforts both in ICC (the International Criminal Court) in the international origins using international law. And also double our efforts in the U.S. to address and engage with the American people,” maintained PLO Chief of General Delegation to the U.S. Husam Zomlot. Palestinian officials have demanded a full investigation into Israel at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, over alleged human rights violations spanning the last four years – a demand the international judiciary announced, ‘it would consider.’