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Ceasefire resolution approved in Albany

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Ceasefire resolution approved in Albany

ALBANY — The Albany City Council passed a resolution on Monday calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, adding the city to a list of other Bay Area municipalities advocating for peace in the region amid tensions at home.

“This is an issue that is present in our community that’s causing harm,” Councilmember Aaron Tiedemann said during the special meeting on Monday. “I think our resolution goes a long way to doing something about all of that. It does not go all the way. It cannot solve these issues but it can be a step towards it.”

Tiedemann joined Mayor John Miki on an ad hoc subcommittee tasked with conducting community outreach, determining whether a ceasefire resolution would be appropriate and then drafting a resolution. The idea to form that subcommittee was initially brought forward by Miki during a March 4 meeting after residents for months had implored the body to call for a ceasefire, Miki said.

Tensions around the decades-long conflict over land rights boiled over internationally following an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas within Israel, which left about 1,200 civilians dead. Since then, Israel’s response has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, as reported by the Associated Press.

Ceasefire advocates have argued government bodies like the Albany City Council have a duty as representatives of their communities to pass resolutions calling for the Israel-Hamas war to end, given that the U.S. is one of Israel’s strongest allies supporting the nation with military aid.

“There can be no peace until there is a free Palestine,” said a resident who spoke at the meeting and only identified herself as Amber. “There can be no free Palestine until there is an end to the occupation. There can be no free Palestine until there is an end to the siege and all of these must start with a ceasefire.”

Others, including many of the Jewish faith, have encouraged the city to stay out of the international issue, sharing concerns the resolution would stoke antisemitism locally. If a resolution was to be approved, opponents of the measure asked that the council also call for the eradication of Hamas, arguing long-term peace is impossible while the group oversees the Gaza strip, and for the resolution to be renamed to call for peace instead of a ceasefire.

“We’ve consistently advised for local boards to avoid resolutions about foreign affairs because these efforts exacerbate tensions among traumatized communities,” Jonathan Mintzer, director of external relations at Jewish Community Relations Council, said during the meeting. “I’m asking you to align Albany with the United States, E.U., U.K. and recognize that true peace is only available if Hamas is removed from power.”

After some on-the-fly language workshopping, the Albany City Council voted 4-0 to adopt its resolution. It’s title “supporting an immediate bilateral ceasefire in Gaza” went unchanged and no language about eradicating Hamas was added. Absent from the meeting was Councilmember Jennifer Hansen-Romero, who abstained from the previous vote to form the subcommittee after arguing the issue was outside of the city’s purview.

The council’s decision adds the city to a regional trend first kicked off by neighboring Richmond, which passed a resolution in October stating its support for Palestinians in Gaza. Since then, other cities across the Bay Area, including Oakland and San Francisco, have passed ceasefire resolutions. Gilroy’s elected leaders, meanwhile, voted against a similar resolution.

“As this process started, I didn’t see a bilateral ceasefire as something that would divide our community because I felt we were already a divided community,” Miki said. “While this resolution does not have the tangible effect of influencing anyone in the U.S. government, anyone in Israel or anyone in Hamas, it does raise the common voice we’ve heard consistently in our community that we want peace.”



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