City councilors narrowly approve a non-binding resolution that also includes a call for humanitarian aid and the release of captives.
Chicago has become the latest US city to call for a permanent ceasefire as Israel’s war on Gaza nears its four-month mark, putting increased pressure on President Joe Biden ahead of November’s election to help end the fighting.
After weeks of heated public meetings, city councilors in the third-largest U.S. city narrowly approved the nonbinding resolution Wednesday, by a vote of 24 to 23. The deciding vote was cast by Mayor Brandon Johnson, who also had to temporarily leave the council chambers during the heated session.
The symbolic statement includes a call for humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip and the release of all captives held in the enclave.
“Do I believe that the words we speak today, the way we vote today, directly influence international politics? I don’t know. I don’t have these illusions,” said Alderman Daniel La Spata, one of the sponsors of the resolution. “But we vote with hope. We vote with solidarity. We vote to help people feel heard in a world of silence.
The ordinance has remained largely unchanged in recent months despite pressure from the council’s sole Jewish member, Alderman Debra Silverstein, who sought more support for Israel and criticism of Hamas.
“We all want an end to the bloodshed and an end to the war. But it is essential to understand what caused the conflict, and we must pass a resolution that addresses the problem responsibly,” she said during the meeting. “We should not pass a resolution unless it makes clear that Hamas cannot and must not attack again. »
Israeli attacks have devastated the Gaza Strip since Hamas fighters launched surprise attacks in Israel on October 7 that killed around 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli officials. Israel responded with a relentless air and ground offensive that killed nearly 27,000 people, about 70 percent of them children, women and the elderly, according to Gaza’s health ministry.
The United States, under both Democratic and Republican presidents, has provided Israel with $3.8 billion a year in military aid, ranging from fighter jets to powerful bombs. But in recent months, Israel’s relentless military campaign against Gaza has exposed deep divisions in the United States, amid growing anger over the Biden administration’s foreign policy.
The resolution’s passage means Chicago has now followed cities like Atlanta, Detroit and San Francisco in calling for a ceasefire.
An analysis of municipal data by the Reuters news agency this week showed that at least 48 US cities passed symbolic resolutions calling for an end to Israeli bombing of Gaza, while six others passed resolutions advocating more broadly. in favor of peace. At least 20 countries have adopted resolutions condemning the Hamas attacks of October 7.
Most of the ceasefire resolutions were passed in Democratic states like California, but at least 14 were passed in swing states like Michigan, which could be decisive in Biden’s re-election bid, very likely against former Republican President Donald Trump.
Many calls for a ceasefire are inspired by Missouri Congresswoman Cori Bush’s “Ceasefire Now” resolution, which also calls for the release of prisoners and increased aid to Gaza.
At least nine of the ceasefire calls came in Michigan, where Arab Americans make up 5% of the vote and Biden’s margin of victory over Trump in 2020 was less than 3%. An October poll showed support for Biden among Arab Americans had fallen to 17%, down from 59% in 2020.
“Arab Americans will not vote for Joe Biden, no matter what. That’s it. They’re done with Biden,” Sam Baydoun, a Wayne County commissioner, told Al Jazeera this week.
” It is essential. Joe Biden will not succeed in regaining the trust of the Arab-American community,” he said. reflecting frustration many members of the Arab-American community following Biden’s decision unwavering support for Israel.
Douglas Wilson, a Democratic strategist in the swing state of North Carolina, said the war “will be something that stays on voters’ minds” in the next election.
“It’s going to be a problem here and in all the swing states because of the Muslim populations in those states, the Jewish populations in those states and the black and brown population (in) those states,” Wilson told Reuters.