St. Paul City Council unanimously passes resolution calling for cease-fire in Gaza

St. Paul City Council unanimously passes resolution calling for cease-fire in Gaza

St. Paul City Council unanimously passes resolution calling for cease-fire in Gaza

St. Paul City Council members unanimously approved a resolution calling for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza on Wednesday, joining a growing list of cities across the U.S. that have done so.

The measure urges President Joe Biden to negotiate a permanent and mutual end to the hostilities that began when Hamas militants carried out a massacre on Israeli soil, killing more than 1,100 people and taking some 200 hostages. In the five months since, Israeli forces have bombarded the Gaza Strip, killing more than 30,000 Palestinians and displacing more than 2 million.

In addition to calling for a cease-fire, the resolution presses the Biden administration and federal elected officials to facilitate humanitarian aid in Gaza, ensure the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners, condemn the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, and discontinue U.S. military aid to Israel “without clear guarantees for civilian safety.”

The St. Paul resolution comes after weeks of pressure from pro-Palestine activists attending — and sometimes disrupting — City Council meetings. It also follows a presidential primary in which 19% of DFL voters marked their ballots “uncommitted” to voice their disapproval of the Biden administration’s handling of the war in Gaza.

City Council Member Nelsie Yang — who expressed her frustration last week when Council President Mitra Jalali adjourned a meeting before Yang could introduce a cease-fire resolution — lamented that the final draft did not delve into the broader context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I think it was long overdue for us to be able to get here, but again, I am proud that we are able to get here today,” Yang said before bringing up the history of illegal settlements in the West Bank and the 17-year blockade on Gaza.

Council Member Rebecca Noecker emphasized that she did not believe it was the role of municipal government to adopt resolutions relating to international affairs.

“As many of our constituents have said, complex international issues with, in this case, thousands of years of history, are simply beyond our capacity as elected officials to fully understand, and they distract from more immediate issues that are our responsibility to address,” Noecker said.

Even so, Noecker said it was worthwhile to “acknowledge the immense pain that has led people to demand action.”

“I believe we have drafted a resolution that is by far more fair, nuanced and justified than any that I have seen to date,” she said. “We have done this our own way — we have done this the St. Paul way — and I believe this resolution can help unite our community rather than further divide it, which has to be our ultimate goal.”

In her closing remarks before calling a vote, Jalali applauded her colleagues for arriving at a resolution that is inclusive of their varying perspectives but sends a pointed message to the federal government.

“We have been looking for a way to send a clear message that both Twin Cities support a permanent mutual cease-fire,” she said. “Both Twin Cities expect our federal government to take all of this anguish and to make better choices, better than the past foreign policy they have wrought.”

Minneapolis, Hastings and Coon Rapids have all passed similar resolutions. In Minneapolis’ case, the City Council passed a resolution and then overrode Mayor Jacob Frey’s veto.

If Mayor Melvin Carter approves the St. Paul resolution, it will be forwarded to President Biden, Congresswoman Betty McCollum, and Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith.