israel (apartheid state) imagines it’s above International Law and will have no excuses when other nations assume the same

Israel Says It Is Entitled To Violate Sovereignty of Foreign Countries

The Israeli government has recently claimed that it can “legislate anywhere in the world”, that it is “entitled to violate the sovereignty of foreign countries”, and that “is allowed to ignore the directives of international law in any field it desires”. This was written in an official response letter to the Supreme Court last month.

On the face of it, these are audacious claims. Is it really that bad? I would say that it’s even worse. The background to these statements is a new law from last year, which legalizes outright theft of Palestinian land.

Several Palestinian human rights organizations have challenged the law in court. The plaintiffs are Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Gaza) on behalf of 17 local Palestinian authorities in the West Bank. The Israeli government was represented by a private lawyer, Harel Arnon, because Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit refused to defend the law in court, since he deemed it illegal by international law already when it was first passed.

The Settlement Regularization Law was passed in February last year, in order to retroactively legalize thousands of settler homes and structures built on Palestinian private land, to avert the possibility that the Supreme Court might one day sanction their removal. Before the law was passed, Israeli law still considered such structures illegal, even though under international law, absolutely all the settlements are a flagrant violation of international law, be they located on private land or not.

It was not only Haaretz that called the law a “theft law” – it was also longtime Likudniks such as lawmaker Benny Begin; Former Likud minister Dan Meridor called it “evil and dangerous”; even Prime Minister Netanyahu was warning that passing it may end up getting Israeli officials to the International Criminal Court in The Hague; attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s stated refusal to defend the law in court was met with reassurance by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked that the state could simply get a private attorney (which it did). The contentious matter was not only the theft itself – but the application of Israeli law enacted directly by the Knesset (rather than by the Military occupation authority), that was seen as a precedence leading to de-facto annexation. As Dan Meridor wrote in his Haaretz opinion piece just ahead of the final vote on the law: 

“The Knesset has never enacted legislation regulating Arabs’ property ownership in Judea and Samaria. The Knesset was elected by Israelis and legislates for them. The Arabs of Judea and Samaria did not vote for the Knesset, and it has no authority to legislate for them. These are basic principles of democracy and Israeli law. As a rule, elected officials legislate for their constituents and those within the area of their jurisdiction, not others. No government in Israel has applied its sovereignty to the West Bank – not former Likud prime ministers Menachem Begin or Yitzhak Shamir. They understood the obvious: If you want to pass legislation for the West Bank, you have to extend your sovereignty and allow the residents of Judea and Samaria the right to become citizens and vote in Knesset elections. And the meaning is clear.”

I should add a critical note here about Meridor’s central claim – that it is in fact erroneous regarding the West Bank, in that East Jerusalem is by international law a part of the West Bank, and Israel has applied its sovereignty unilaterally upon it (de facto since 1967, and in quasi-constitutional basic law in 1980, in defiance of international law and UNSC resolutions). The fact that Meridor simply considers East Jerusalem a part of Israel, and now goes to admonish Israel for basically doing the same (de facto annexation) regarding the rest of the West Bank, only goes to show that this is a case of the blind leading the blind.

But let us now return to the recent ‘theft law’ legislation from last year: The pressure to legitimize Israel’s own crimes became too great to oppose even from the right. The looming ‘danger’ that Meridor mentioned, of enacting de-facto annexation and possibly having to extend Palestinians the right to become citizens, was overweighed by the greed for the land. Israel’s famous equation of “maximum Jews, maximum territory, minimum Palestinians” came this time to mean that Israel would risk enacting state legislation in an area where Jews were still generally not a majority, in the hope that it would help them become it. Thus the law was passed by 60-52, and the land-grab was made legal by the Israeli Knesset. It was estimated that the law would retroactively legalize about 4,000 settler homes.

In the recent court case, the plaintiffs challenging the law pointed to the obvious illegality:

“Adalah and fellow petitioners argued that the Knesset is not permitted to enact and impose laws on territory occupied by the State of Israel. Thus, the Knesset cannot enact laws that annex the West Bank or that violate the rights of Palestinian residents of the West Bank.”

The State of Israel, in the recent response letter (Hebrew) to the court (filed August 7th), claimed in its defense that:

[1] ‘The Knesset has no limitation which prevents it from legislating extra-territorially anywhere in the world, including the area [‘Judea and Samaria’]’.

Having made that statement, the Israeli government goes on to rebuff the plaintiffs’ claim that it cannot legislate there and goes further to suggest that it is not at all subject to the directives of international law:

[4] ‘…Although the Knesset can legislate [concerning] any place in the world, although it is entitled to violate the sovereignty of foreign countries through legislation that would be applied to events occurring in their territories […], although it is within the authority of the Government of Israel to annex any territory […], although the Knesset may ignore directives of international law in any area it pleases […] despite all these, the plaintiffs seek to define a “rule” by which precisely in Judea and Samaria the Knesset is prohibited from legislating anything, and that precisely there, and nowhere else in the world, it is subject to the directives of international law’. 

Adalah Attorneys Suhad Bishara and Myssana Morany, were in disbelief:

“The Israeli government’s extremist response has no parallel anywhere in the world. It stands in gross violation of international law and of the United Nations Charter which obligates member states to refrain from threatening or using force against the territorial integrity of other states – including occupied territories. The Israeli government’s extremist position is, in fact, a declaration of its intention to proceed with its annexation of the West Bank.”

Adalah has posted about this and provided some quotes from the above. You would think that such proclamations by the Israeli government would really hit the mainstream news cycle, yet it seems to have so far gone relatively unnoticed.

Several of my contacts have responded to this little-reported news with a certain disbelief – could it really be that Israel is openly stating that it is above international law?

Indeed, as I had mentioned above, it is not exactly a secret that Israel is now acting in brazen defiance of international law. Its own highest legal authorities are completely aware of it. But what we also need to see is that it has been doing this for a very long time, in fact, since its inception. As I had mentioned at the time of the passing of the Regularization Law, legalizing the theft of Palestinian land has been Israeli policy since day 1. Attorney Harel Arnon was using this notion as precedence in defense of the recent law, noting (in pt. 4):

“The honourable court has never passed legal critique upon central legislation of the Knesset also in cases where it contradicted, by the method of the plaintiffs, the directives of international law in cases which were more clear (the enactment of Israeli legislation in the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem)”… 

That’s a very valid point. Israel’s unilateral annexations of the Syrian Golan and East Jerusalem are direct violations of international law, and they are condemned very clearly in United Nations Security Council resolutions. If the Israeli court approved it then, why should it not approve it now?

Attorney Arnon used a Supreme Court quote from an earlier case (pt. 12), where the court opined that “the mere enactment of a random Israeli norm upon an anonymous place outside the country, does not necessarily make that anonymous place a part of Israel”.  This was relating to the West Bank, where Israel indeed enacts Israeli law upon settlers, even in places where it has not annexed territory. 

See, this is part of the basis by which Arnon claims that “Israel can legislate anywhere in the world”. The essence of this is “if we could do it before, why cant we do it now”?

This point should be taken very seriously. The Israeli Supreme Court has often been perceived as a tool of the Israeli occupation. Thus even in very clear cases such as the 2004 International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on Israel’s ‘security barrier’, where the ICJ deemed it wholly illegal (because it was mostly built on Palestinian, not Israeli, territory), the Supreme Court still managed to deflect this and claim that international law did not apply to Israel in this way. The Supreme Court has repeatedly managed to avoid and deflect these bigger issues and allow for Israel’s continued creeping annexation. This is a current, ongoing issue. Israel is preparing to demolish the Palestinian West Bank village of Khan al Ahmar, with the approval and sanction of the Supreme Court. B’Tselem:

“On Thursday, 24 May 2018, three Israeli Supreme Court justices – Noam Sohlberg, Anat Baron and Yael Willner – ruled that the state may demolish the homes of the community of Khan al-Ahmar, transfer the residents from their homes and relocate them. This ruling removes the last stumbling block in Israel’s way in the matter, lifting the impediment which had thus far served to defer the transfer of the community, a war crime under international law”;  

“The Israeli Supreme Court in the Service of the Occupation: In their ruling, Justices Amit, Meltzer, and Baron described an imaginary world with an egalitarian planning system that takes into account the needs of the Palestinians, as if there had never been an occupation. The reality is diametrically opposed to this fantasy: Palestinians cannot build legally and are excluded from the decision-making mechanisms that determine how their lives will look. The planning systems are intended solely for the benefit of the settlers. This ruling shows once again that those under occupation cannot seek justice in the occupier’s courts. If the demolition of the community of Khan al-Ahmar goes ahead, the Supreme Court Justices will be among those who will bear responsibility for this war crime” (my emphasis).

Attorney Arnon brought up the Adolf Eichmann case in the response letter:

“The Court further implemented this doctrine in the famous Eichmann (1962) case, regarding ex post facto penal legislation: ‘[W]here [there is a conflict between the provisions of domestic law and a rule of international law], it is the duty of the court to give preference to and apply the laws of the local legislature`”.  

It is smart to bring up the Holocaust in Israel. There’s often a particularly soft spot for that, and that can spill over to melt the ‘pedantic’ limitations of customary law. Eichmann was indeed kidnapped by Mossad in Argentina, 1960. He was given the death sentence in Israel and hanged in 1962. This is extra-territorial spy activity and extra-territorial enactment of jurisdiction. As it involved the Holocaust, few would dare challenge it. This lines up with Golda Meir’s claim that “after the Holocaust, Jews are allowed to do anything”.

And so Israel’s private attorney Harel Arnon is essentially saying: if we could do it to Eichmann, why can’t we do it to the West Bank?

Arnon is not directly implying that Palestinians are Nazis, although such comparisons do occasionally feature in opinions of leading pundits in Israel, such as those of Yoaz Hendel, former director of communications and public diplomacy for Prime Minister Netanyahu.

All this may go to explain the relative media silence there has been about the proclamations made in this letter. The world knows it has allowed Israel to get away with so much criminality, and the West knows that a lot of that has had to do with its own Holocaust guilt. That made it weak and reduced its willingness to take Israel to task for its violations. And maybe people are feeling that they shouldn’t be throwing stones in a glass house. But we must see what is happening – Israel is overtly legalizing theft. The brazen proclamations saying that international law does not apply to Israel should have been shocking – but sadly, they are not. Because we know it has been the policy for so long. And since the reaction has been weak, Israel, like a spoiled brat, has learned that it can get away with it, and that it can become ever more obnoxious without it suffering any cost.

Indeed, one is left to wonder, who will stop the Jewish State? After all, international law does not have the automatic enforcement mechanisms as domestic law, and the international bodies that were meant to hold Israel accountable to international law, have so far largely failed to do so, at least where Palestinians are concerned. In a time when the American superpower stands firmly on Israel’s side in violation of international law, as with the moving of the embassy to Jerusalem and the endorsement of Israel’s unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem, it is hard to see why Israel would or should believe that international law applies to it at all. This is the light in which we may understand the language in that letter. It’s so brazen, because there is not even a sense of need to portray any semblance of respect towards international law. Israel is now undertaking a bonanza of theft in broad daylight, with a chauvinist sense that nothing will stop it. That’s what really transpires from the language of that letter.

It’s OK to drop a jaw at this. The language in that letter should serve as a wake-up call. But then we must also collect ourselves and remind ourselves that it is up to grassroots pressure to change this situation and protect the Palestinians from the unhindered Israeli military and legislative colonialist onslaught, enacted by the ‘eternal victims’


The U.S. Goes to War Against the ICC to Cover Up Alleged War Crimes in Afghanistan

By Murtaza Hussain

The United States has never been a friend of the International Criminal Court. While relations between the U.S. and the ICC have fluctuated over the course of different administrations, the American government has steadfastly refused to take the step that 124 other states have of ratifying the Rome Statute and thus becoming a member of the international legal body. The ICC’s mandate to investigate war crimes has thus been hampered by the unwillingness of the world’s sole superpower to commit to the organization.

Recent statements from the Trump administration suggest that the United States is now preparing to go to war against the ICC itself, motivated largely by an effort to silence investigations into alleged American war crimes committed in Afghanistan, as well as alleged crimes committed by Israel during the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip. In a speech at a D.C. event held by the Federalist Society on Monday, Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton denounced the ICC as “illegitimate” and expressed his intentions toward the institution in no uncertain terms. “We will not cooperate with the ICC,” Bolton said. “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.”

In addition to this death wish against the court, Bolton said that the United States would retaliate against any ICC investigations into U.S. activities by sanctioning the travel and finances of ICC officials, even threatening to prosecute them in American courts.

Because it involves U.S. officials themselves, at the center of the campaign against the ICC is a 2016 report by ICC prosecutors that deals in part with the war in Afghanistan. That report alleges the commission of widespread crimes by the Taliban and Afghan government forces. But the report also makes allegations of serious crimes committed by U.S. military forces and the CIA, including “torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, and rape.”

The crimes in question appear to have been related to detention programs run in Afghanistan during the early years of the U.S. occupation. While the report does not name the individuals responsible nor their victims, it indicates that there are dozens of cases in which torture, cruel treatment, and sexual assault were committed by American soldiers and CIA officers in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2004.

The report also states that the alleged crimes “were not the abuses of a few isolated individuals,” adding that “there is a reasonable basis to believe these alleged crimes were committed in furtherance of a policy or policies aimed at eliciting information through the use of interrogation techniques involving cruel or violent methods which would support U.S. objectives in the conflict in Afghanistan.”

Given longstanding U.S. refusals to cooperate with ICC investigations, it’s unlikely that the 2016 document — a preliminary report from the prosecutor’s office — would have succeeded in bringing U.S. officials to trial at the Hague. Bolton’s campaign thus seems intended on solidifying the fact that the United States is free of international norms on human rights conduct, with those who even investigate its actions subject to threat.

That the ICC investigation reaches back to the George W. Bush era, when Bolton served as United Nations ambassador, is fitting. In the years after the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States began to come under withering scrutiny for its detention policies in those countries. In addition to high-profile cases of torture at prison sites like Abu Ghraib, the CIA and U.S. military have been accused of brutalizing and even murdering prisoners held in their custody at detention facilities like Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan.

Civilian contractors working for the CIA have also engaged in the murder of Afghan detainees, including David Passaro, who beat to death an Afghan man named Abdul Wali who had turned himself in to authorities after being accused of involvement in a militant attack. Passaro was later sentenced to eight and a half years in jail by an American court. Following his release, he briefly returned to the public eye in media interviews justifying his involvement in the murder.

To date, Passaro, a civilian, is the only person to have been held legally accountable for torture and murder carried out under the CIA detention program, in Afghanistan or elsewhere. This despite a landmark 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee that documented, in excruciating detail, widespread evidence of torture and other abuses carried out by CIA officials.

The unwillingness or inability of U.S. courts to seriously investigate war crimes carried out by American citizens is part of why the ICC mandate in Afghanistan has been viewed as an important effort to bring a minimum level of accountability over the conflict. This past November, the court announced that it planned to move forward with investigations stemming from its 2016 report.

In a statement responding to Bolton’s threats, the ICC said that “the ICC, as a court of law, will continue to do its work undeterred, in accordance with those principles and the overarching idea of the rule of law.”

Given its longstanding intransigence toward the ICC, it was unlikely that the United States would ever have cooperated with its investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan, even under a less bellicose administration. But the Trump administration’s threats to target specific ICC officials over their war crimes investigations enters a new realm of hostility against international law. The consequences could be a further degradation of already shaky international norms surrounding human rights in conflict zones.

“The ICC is not stepping in just for the sake of how Bolton put it, just to undermine U.S. sovereignty. This is really nonsense. They are stepping in because we failed — the United States failed to uphold the rule of law,” said Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program, in a television segment on Democracy Now! Tuesday morning about Bolton’s comments. “This is the same Trump administration that has an abysmal record of human rights here in the United States and is trying to encourage other countries to follow its pattern.”

This article was originally published by The Intercept

Top Three Charges on Which John Bolton Should be Tried at the International Criminal Court (ICC)

Global Research, September 13, 2018
Informed Comment 12 September 2018

By Juan Cole

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National Security Adviser John Bolton appears to be spiraling down into the same miasma of madness that possesses other members of the Trump administration– perhaps caused by a microbe carried in Trump’s sniffle. This week he threatened justices of the International Criminal Court in the Hague with physical abduction were they to dare indict an American for war crimes committed in Afghanistan.

The International Criminal Court was established by the Rome Statute, which went into effect in 2002 has been ratified by 123 nations of the world. Most of Europe and all of Latin America and half of African states have signed. Virtually the only deadbeats are countries whose officials are afraid of being indicted by the court for serious human rights crimes, such as Syria, China, India, Sudan, Israel, Russia and . . . the United States of America (actually the latter four signed but they pulled out when they realized that they had exposed their state officials to prosecution, what with the war crimes they are constantly committing).

The ICC undertook to try dictator Moammar Gaddafi, but he was killed before he could be brought before it; it still has an outstanding case against the dictator’s son Seif. For Bolton to menace it in this way makes clear that he is in the Gaddafi category, which is why he fears the institution.

Bolton has no particular expertise in anything at all, he is just an angry shyster lawyer picked up by the more insane elements of the Republican Party. He once denied that the United Nations exists, then tried to make himself US ambassador to the United Nations (he wasn’t confirmed, but served briefly on a sneaky Bush recess appointment).

So here are five crimes that this authors alleges Bolton has committed, for which he by all rights should face justice at the Hague, at the hands of the same ICC judges that he just brutishly threatened:

1. Bolton played a key role in hoodwinking the American public into the 2003 US war of aggression on Iraq, for which there was no legitimate casus belli or legal basis for war. The UN Charter forbids the initiation of a war except where a country is attacked and responds in self-defense or where the UN Security Council designates a government as a threat to world order (as it did Gaddafi’s Libya). These attempts to outlaw wars of aggression were a reaction against the Nazi invasion of Poland, etc. People like Bolton, who don’t want any constraints on his power from the international rule of law, are just trying out for the role of people like Nazi generals Günther von Kluge and Gerd von Rundstedt, who led the assault on Poland. (Like Bolton in regard to Iraq, they maintained that they were only defending themselves from a menacing Poland, but nobody believed this lie).

Bolton is manifestly guilty of the crime of aggression under the Rome Statute and its 2010 enabling statutes adopted at Kampala: Article 8 bis, para 1, says: For the purpose of this Statute, “crime of aggression” means the planning, preparation, initiation or execution, by a person in a position effectively to exercise control over or to direct the political or military action of a State, of an act of aggression which, by its character, gravity and scale, constitutes a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations.

As Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security under Bush, Bolton was clearly a high executive officer of a government guilty of the crime of aggression.

2. As National Security Adviser, Bolton has supported the Apartheid policies of the far-right extremist government of Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu toward the Occupied Palestinians.

Apartheid is a crime under the Rome Statute:

    ‘The crime of apartheid’ means inhumane acts . . . committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”

He also supports the transfer of Israeli citizens into the Occupied West Bank as squatters on Palestinian land.
8.2.b.viii stipulates as a war crime

    “The transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory.”

Bolton strongly supports and enables a whole range of war crimes of the Likud regime in Tel Aviv against the Palestinian people, above all keeping them in a condition of abject statelessness and continually stealing their property.

Under war crimes comes “Extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.”

It could be argued that Israel could not engage in these illegal violations of Palestinian rights save for the American veto, so that high US officials who conspire to enable crimes like Apartheid and usurpation of Occupied Territories are even more guilty than Israeli officials.

3. Bolton is in the back pocket of, has spoken for,  the People’s Jihadis (Mojahedin-e Khalq), a group that has been on the US State Department terrorist watch list and which has killed civilians with bombings and attacks in Iran. They even had a base given them for these purposes by Saddam Hussein, in whose company Bolton has fallen, given their alliance with this same Iranian cult.

Screenshot NY Review of Books , July 2018

The MEK is guilty of “a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack,” and under this heading, of murder. In fact, it has killed Americans.

USA unable to live with International Law but that doesn’t mean it’s going away

The Trump Administration’s Intent Is to “Let the ICC Die”.The International Criminal Court is “Illegitimate” according to Bolton

By J. B. Gerald,

We will let the ICC die on its own – U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton

Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

In a speech to the Federalist Society September 10th National Security Adviser John Bolton announced the U.S. will not cooperate in any way with the International Criminal Court. Speaking for the President and Trump administration Mr. Bolton says the U.S. considers the International Criminal Court illegitimate, and he threatens its judges with denial of entry to the States, and impounding their financial assets, and with arrest, if they pursue cases which might “unjustly” place in jeopardy U.S. citizens. This threat extends to those assisting the Court.

The policy presents an attempt to shield from prosecution “by any means necessary,” U.S. Armed Forces personnel, intelligence agents, and government officials such as himself. By placing these above the law Bolton is threatening the American people with the Trump administration’s impunity. While the policy may allow war crimes and crimes against humanity in U.S. client states, it will also encourage the 123 nations who subscribe to the ICC to view the U.S. as a rogue state and fascist entity

North Americans concerned with prevention of genocide will note that Bolton’s wish to “let the ICC die” would remove a primary international legal mechanism for calling U.S. leaders to account for crimes such as genocide, aggression, torture. Without the resistance available at least on paper from the ICC, governments such as the Trump administration would have a much freer hand in alleged crimes such as torture in Afghanistan, in black operations sites throughout the world, as well as implication in the use of death squads by U.S. client states or what might be considered the kidnapping of migrant children at American borders.

American law if honestly applied has little to fear from international law so the Trump administration’s further severance of the U.S. from the ICC points up the administration’s exception to the global consensus on a decent standard of human rights. Bolton’s revelations express a movement within U.S. extreme right-wing circles which finds burdensome an ongoing struggling tradition safeguarding American human rights (ie. The Bill of Rights).

The thinking which initiated the presidential killing list under George W. Bush, continues to gain strength, asserting itself at this point due to an ICC investigatory report suggesting that war crimes have been committed in Afghanistan, primarily in 2003-4, where Afghan security forces, U.S. forces and CIA personnel are allegedly implicated.

Afghanistan is a member state of the ICC and the ICC has jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed there. To quote CTV News:

The 181-page prosecution request, dated November 2017, said “information available provides a reasonable basis to believe that members of United States of America (US) armed forces and members of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence against conflict-related detainees in Afghanistan and other locations, principally in the 2003-2004 period.”

During three months (November and December 2017 and January 2018) allegations of 1.7 million war crimes were sent to the ICC from European and Afghan organizations. There is only a slight chance the Trump administration would not consider ICC prosecution of Americans responsible for these crimes, “unjust”. There is no indication that any of the 1.7 million complaints have been addressed by the U.S. system of justice.

Bolton has made a point of assuring Israelis the same protections as American citizens: the ICC is currently considering whether to prosecute Israel’s alleged war crimes against the people of Gaza. The Palestinian request to the ICC for an investigation is given as the reason for the U.S. recent closure of Palestinian Liberation Office in Washington D.C..

Despite these threats the ICC intends to continue its work.


This article was originally published on the author’s blog site at  Night’s Lantern 

Partial Sources Online

“US threatens sanctions against International Criminal Court, will close PLO office in Washington,” Elise Labott and Hilary Clarke, Sept. 11, 2018, CNN;

“John Bolton threatens ICC judges with sanctions,” Sept. 10, 2018, Al Jazeera;

“Rights groups warn against U.S. flouting international court,” Kathy Gannon (AP), Sept.11, 2018, CTV News;

“John Bolton threatens war crimes court with sanctions in virulent attack,” Sept. 10, 2018, The Guardian;

“ICC will continue ‘undeterred’ after US threats,” Sept. 11, 2018, The Guardian;

“Israel lodges official protest to International Criminal Court,” Barak David, Aug. 14, 2018, Channel 10 News.

Featured image is from Julie Maas.

Trump’s Taking Putin’s Earlier ICC Moves to a Qualitatively New Level

President Putin’s decision to remove Russia from the International Criminal Court in 2016 over its hyper-politicized reports about the country’s activities during the 2008 peace-enforcement operation against Georgia and 2014 reunification with Crimea inadvertently gave “normative legitimacy” to Trump leaving the organization too, though Moscow could never have expected that Washington would then take everything to a qualitatively new level by threatening to sanction anyone who dares to cooperate with this globalist body’s cases on American and “Israeli” war crimes.

This much is obvious, and it’s that the US and “Israel” are essentially the same political entity on two different continents, with one hand washing the other, proverbially speaking, and their “deep states” working in full coordination to protect their shared interests across the world. That’s why no one should have been shocked by the Trump Administration’s announcement that it’ll sanction anyone who dares to approach the International Criminal Court (ICC) with accusations of American or “Israeli” wrongdoing or cooperate on any cases against them. Some of the consequences that National Security Advisor John Bolton said could await any potential violators include being banned from entering the US, having any assets there frozen, and even ironically being tried by American courts, which might not be enough to deter everyone but are still substantial enough to make many international elites like the ICC’s judges second guess whether it’s worth getting involved.

Without a doubt, the US wants to prevent any more evidence of it and “Israel’s” war crimes from reaching the public consciousness, hoping that its weaponization of sanctions will be enough to intimidate this globalist body and therefore allow it and its allies to regain some control over the international narrative about their actions in Afghanistan, Palestine, and elsewhere. The blatant unilateralism of this move and the obvious motivation behind it to cover up countless crimes have been loudly criticized all throughout the Alt-Media Community, and rightly so, but the principle of the ICC and its many controversial activities risk being made sacrosanct in response as various forces try to emphasize the immorality of the US’ decision. That, however, is problematic because it could also harm Russia’s reputation by extent, which inadvertently provided “normative legitimacy” to the US’ withdrawal a few years ago.

To avoid any manipulation of the author’s words and intention in writing this piece, it is not being asserted that Russia in any shape or form supports the extraterritorial application of American law, especially regarding sanctions, but just that the prominent action of a Great Power such as itself pulling out of the ICC in 2016 over its hyper-politicized reports about the country’s activities during the 2008 peace-enforcement operation against Georgia and the 2014 reunification with Crimea set the normative precedent for the US to ultimately follow suit under the same pretexts, even if the American claims of the globalist body’s impartiality towards it are hypocritical. The ICC has always been a politicized instrument of control over war-torn countries like the former Yugoslavia and “Global South” ones such as Sudan, and just like the UN itself, it never embodied the “noble ideas” popularly associated with it.

Far from fulfilling the “utopian” expectations of it being the deliverer of “unbiased justice” all across the world, the ICC instead functions as a weapon of “lawfare” for reinforcing infowar narratives and advancing American interests, though just like other international structures that the US previously exerted full control over such as the WTO, Washington gradually lost its total dominance over them as its rivals made progress in leveraging them to their own advantage. The same trend appears to have reached the ICC too, at least judging by how angrily the US is reacting to war crimes accusations against it and “Israel” being given attention there. Whereas Obama’s America might have “tolerated” this and rationalized it as “taking one for the team” in order to advance the ideology of Liberal-Globalism, Trump’s America has to patience to continue playing this game.

The Fate of the ICC:  When Law and Politics Mix

Just like Russia did roughly two years prior, the US is pulling out of the ICC as well, but unprecedentedly going much further in taking everything to a qualitatively new level by threatening to sanction anyone who cooperates with this structure and therefore contributes to sullying the US and “Israel’s” international reputations by drawing global attention to evidence of their war crimes. It doesn’t matter to the US that these claims are based on a lot more fact than the ones levelled against Russia and other countries that have been victimized by this globalist body, but only that its former instrument of control against others is now finally being used against itself, which is why Washington now wants to destroy what it helped create or at the very least thwart its operational effectiveness.

There’s nothing inherently wrong in principle with leaving a hyper-politicized structure that served as a globalist Hybrid War weapon all along, even though it’s understandably unpalatable to many that the US is attempting to justify this through the use of double standards, but it’s very concerning that America is once again expressing its so-called “Exceptionalism” by threatening to sanction anyone who cooperates with the ICC’s efforts to raise awareness of the US and “Israel’s” war crimes. This goes far beyond China’s refusal to ever join this initiative in the first place or Russia’s decision to pull out of it a few years ago and shows that the US is aggressively trying to manipulate the ICC’s activities in a desperate bid to regain control some control over the international narrative, which in and of itself suggests that its many rivals have indeed been successful over the years in breaking through the Mainstream Media’s monopoly.

By Andrew Korybko

ICC ‘undeterred’ by US threats, to continue work

ICC ‘undeterred’ by US threats, to continue work

International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (C) is seen at the ICC courtroom in The Hague, the Netherlands, on August 28, 2018. (Photo by AFP) International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (C) is seen at the ICC courtroom in The Hague, the Netherlands, on August 28, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has firmly dismissed a threat of sanctions against it by US National Security Adviser John Bolton in case it probes possible US war crimes in Afghanistan, declaring that it will continue its work “undeterred.”

The ICC, as a court of law, will continue to do its work undeterred, in accordance with those principles and the overarching idea of the rule of law,” the ICC announced in a Tuesday statement, a day after Bolton used bullying rhetoric against the United Nations (UN)-backed tribunal in The Hague.

Bolton brazenly threatened on Monday that if the ICC proceeded with a possible probe into possible war crimes committed by the US military and intelligence operatives during its war in Afghanistan or pursued any investigation into war crimes by the Israeli regime or other American allies, Washington would impose sanctions against the court and seek to prosecute its officials where possible.

Reacting to the unprecedented threat by the senior US official, the international court further insisted that it was an independent and impartial institution with the backing of 123 nations, and that it would not be intimidated or dissuaded from its global task.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced last year that there was a “reasonable basis to believe” war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed in Afghanistan and that all sides in the 17-year-old conflict would be inspected, including members of the US military and its Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spying network.

In its Tuesday statement, the ICC did not say clearly whether it will launch a probe of possible war crimes by the US in Afghanistan.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks to the Federalist Society, in Washington DC, the US, September 10, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Bolton threatened that if such an investigation went forward, Washington would ban ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the US, sanction the funds they have there, and even prosecute them in American courts.

‘Straight out of an authoritarian playbook’

Washington has refused to ratify the Rome Treaty that established the ICC. The US has adopted the so-called American Services-Members’ Protection Act — nicknamed The Hague Invasion Act — which authorizes the use of any means necessary to free any American personnel held by the court.

Bolton’s remarks, meanwhile, have alarmed many legal experts, including the executive director of the London-based International Bar Association, Mark Ellis, who blasted what he referred to as “the [US President Donald] Trump administration’s repugnant policy of exceptionalism.”

“The extraordinary attack launched by… Bolton against the ICC is not only in direct contradiction to the principle of accountability for war crimes, but reinforces the Trump administration’s repugnant policy of exceptionalism, where it demands adherence to international law by all countries, except itself,” Ellis said, as quoted in a report by British daily The Guardian.

The paper also quoted the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s human rights program, Jamil Dakwar, as saying, “The Trump administration’s threat to criminally prosecute and sanction international criminal court judges and prosecutors is straight out of an authoritarian playbook.”

‘Justice is not a luxury’

Bolton’s remarks were also censured by Head of Afghanistan’s Human Rights Commission Sima Samar, who said, “It’s very unfortunate because delivering justice to victims will help to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan,” she said. “Justice is not a luxury. It is a basic human right.”

Moreover, the Palestinian Authority also emphasized that it would not abandon its principles after a US decision to close the office of the Palestinian Liberation Front (PLO) in Washington in retaliation for it calling for an ICC investigation into the Israeli regime’s persisting crimes across the occupied territories.

John Bolton Threatens International Criminal Court Judges for Probing U.S. Torture in Afghanistan


President Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, has threatened U.S. sanctions against International Criminal Court judges if they proceed with an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by U.S. troops in Afghanistan. In 2016 an ICC report accused the U.S. military of torturing at least 61 prisoners in Afghanistan during the ongoing war. The report also accused the CIA of subjecting at least 27 prisoners to torture, including rape, at CIA prison sites in Afghanistan, Poland, Romania and Lithuania. Bolton said in a speech at the Federalist Society Monday, “We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.” We get response from Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

President Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton has threatened U.S. sanctions against International Criminal Court judges if they proceed with an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by U.S. troops in Afghanistan. In 2016, an ICC report accused the U.S. military of torturing at least 61 prisoners in Afghanistan during the ongoing war. The report also accused the CIA of subjecting at least 27 prisoners to torture, including rape, at CIA prison sites in Afghanistan, Poland, Romania and Lithuania. John Bolton made the comments in a speech at the Federalist Society Monday.

JOHN BOLTON: 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 prosecutions 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.

AUDIENCE: [Applause]

JOHN BOLTON: We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.

AMY GOODMAN: John Bolton also threatened to directly target judges at the ICC.

JOHN BOLTON: We will respond against the ICC and its personnel to the extent permitted by U.S. law. We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States, we will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system. We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.

AMY GOODMAN: During his speech, John Bolton also announced that the Trump administration would close the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington in response to a Palestinian effort to push the ICC to investigate Israel for war crimes.

JOHN BOLTON: The Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to take steps to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel. The United States supports a direct and robust peace process, and we will not allow the ICC or any other organization to constrain Israel’s right to self-defense.

AMY GOODMAN: Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat criticized the move.

SAEB EREKAT: We were notified unfortunately 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 process of blackmail and extortion and undermining the peace process and the two-state solution. They have cut all humanitarian aid.

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we’re joined by Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s human rights program. Jamil, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you talk about what John Bolton is saying, the significance of his Federalist Society speech yesterday, on the sanctioning of the ICC, saying he will not allow ICC, International Criminal Court judges into the United States, because they might be investigating the United States and Israel for possible war crimes?

JAMIL DAKWAR: Unprecedented attack on the rule of law. This is unheard of, that we have a government and a country that has committed acts of torture in another country, and the country itself, the United States, failed to hold any official accountable for acts of torture by the CIA, by the U.S. military, during the armed conflict in Afghanistan. And that happened during the Bush years and then Obama administration failed to take the comprehensive, thorough investigation into those acts and said, “We will look forward, not backward.”

And now we’re seeing the Trump administration doubling down on their assault on international law and human rights and impunity and fighting impunity by saying we will now go against the same body that is a last resort for victims of torture, that is the only international institution recognized as the one that is supposed to investigate and prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. And the Trump administration is saying, “We will be treating your judges and prosecutors like drug traffickers, like war criminals,” instead of admitting that there was a failure in holding officials accountable.

So John Bolton basically is the same John Bolton he was when he was in the Bush administration. He was the same one. He made destroying the court a lifetime project and goal. The difference now, he is in the place where he can do more than what he was doing in the Bush years. So it is a very dangerous attack on the international body where 123 countries are members—many of them are close U.S. allies, particularly in Europe—that is supposed to defend the independence of this body, and yet we see John Bolton perhaps wants to score points with the political base, people who are supporting Trump in the U.S. by invoking distorted and misinformation about the fact that the court is likely to investigate crimes that actually do not exist under the statute, under the law of the ICC.

So we’re in a very—the tipping point where the administration is basically saying, “We’re going to have a frontal attack on judges and prosecutors and personnel.” By the way, there is no legal theory to support that. I don’t understand what is it that, how is it that they would be prosecuting judges for the mere fact of conducting their job and responsibility under international treaty that is recognized, again, and ratified by 123 countries.

What is also concerning and very dangerous is that the threat is not just against the judges and the prosecutors and the personnel of the court, but it’s also against any state or party that is supposed to or willing to assist the ICC in its investigation of U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan. Lithuania, Romania, and Poland—these are the three countries where the CIA had black sites where people were tortured. And that means that they are opening, they are sending this threat to anyone, virtually anyone who would be an a position to assist the ICC. Does that include lawyers? Does that include individuals, organizations here in the United States? Lawyers who represented torture victims, including us at the ACLU? Where does that go? What is it that the Trump administration wants to do?

But ultimately, they are seeing that the ICC is about to open a full investigation into torture in Afghanistan. As a report said, this investigation is not only against the United States. It is the United States and Afghan forces, Taliban forces who were part of the armed conflict in Afghanistan. What makes it so important and significant here is that the United States is the country that has the longest tradition of upholding the rule of law and having independent investigative bodies and judiciary to investigate acts of torture when they occur, and yet it failed to do so. That is why the ICC is stepping in.

The ICC is not stepping in just for the sake of how Bolton put it, just to undermine U.S. sovereignty. This is really nonsense. They are stepping in because we failed—the United States failed to uphold the rule of law. It failed to investigate acts of torture that were well-documented by the Senate torture report that was published or at least partially declassified in December 2014.

So we are in a position where we see an escalation in attack on international bodies. This is the same administration that withdrew from the Human Rights Council. This is the same administration that is now changing the rules of engagement with regard to the use of targeted killings. This is the same administration that is pulling out of international treaties, including the issue like the Paris Accord, which you talked about in the previous segment.

So we are very concerned about that, but I think we also need to put it into perspective. This is the same Trump administration that has an abysmal record of human rights here in the United States and is trying to encourage other countries to follow its pattern, the pattern of disregarding a court of law, the rule of law, disregarding international law and basically saying that there are certain countries that are above international law, that they should enjoy immunity, they should not be prosecuted or investigated.

The United States after all is the one that actually conducted these operations, military operations, intelligence operations, that were involving torture and prolonged detention of detainees in Afghanistan. And that is why I think we ought to step back and look at what is it and not buy into the false misinformation that is being spread by John Bolton with no basis in U.S. law to threaten prosecutors and judges and so forth.

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