‘Political theater,’ and other New York official reaction to the Palestinian statehood vote

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The United Nations voted to grant Palestine nonmember observer status this afternoon, over the objections of American diplomats, a decision that drew an unequivoal reaction from New York's elected officials.

"Today's political theater at the United Nations is a harmful distraction from achieving true peace and stability between Israel and Palestine," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in a statement shortly after the vote.

The United States previously blocked a vote by the U.N. to recognize Palestinian statehood, but was unable to block the vote for nonmember status, which could accord Palestine access to new legal channels for challenging Israel in court.

Gillibrand urged the U.N.'s secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, "to do everything in his power to block the Palestinians from access to the International Criminal Court.”

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Rep. Eliot Engel said the vote "places the cart before the horse and eliminates the incentives for the Palestinians to engage in any type of dialogue with Israel" and that the international community had its approach to Palestine "backwards."

"Hamas shoots thousands of rockets at Israel and gets visits and legitimization from the international community," Engel said in a statement. "The Palestinian Authority is unwilling to engage in dialogue to reach a compromise with Israel and becomes a non-member observer state. Rewarding these actions is like putting the car in reverse and stepping on the gas."

Most of the statements called for re-starting bilateral negotiations between the two countries, as a necessary step toward peace.

"Only direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations can result in a viable two-state solution – with an independent Palestinian state established with adequate and agreed upon security guarantees for Israel," said Rep. Jerry Nadler in his statement. "I truly hope that we can soon return to good faith, bilateral negotiations."