Oakland City Council unanimously passes resolution calling for permanent cease-fire in Gaza

Oakland City Council passes resolution calling for permanent cease-fire in Gaza

OAKLAND — On Monday night, the Oakland City Council passed a resolution calling for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza. 

The resolution — getting unanimous support from the council — calls for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. That was enough to bring both Israel and Palestinian supporters to City Hall to engage in a battle of words. More than 500 people signed up to speak at the meeting.

But unlike Richmond's inflammatory resolution in October that pointed the finger at Israel, accusing it of an "ethnic cleansing campaign," Oakland's statement recognizes the losses on both sides without really taking a side.

"This is about protecting children and families from Gaza to Israel," said councilmember Noel Gallo in an interview. "And certainly, we recognize the problem with Hamas in terms of initiating the violence, but at the same time, we're asking for peace. Peace and protect the families, the residents of Gaza and so forth. And we're sending our recommendation up to the state legislators as well as the federal government. That's what this is about."

The resolution calls for Congress and the US government to demand a permanent cease-fire, something Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected. Tyler Gregory, CEO of the Jewish Community Resource Center, said a declared cease-fire would allow Hamas to rearm and would not guarantee the return of all hostages.

"What we're concerned about is, calling for an immediate cease-fire without the return of the hostages home while Hamas is still in power just doesn't really add up," he said. "So, we're hoping to make some amendments today that set the record straight."

But Ellen Brotsky, a protester with Jewish Voice for Peace, said, while it's good to see a truce while hostages and prisoners are exchanged, the attacks on Palestinian neighborhoods cannot be allowed to resume.

"I think we have to keep the pressure up," she said. "Because, so far, it's still a temporary cease-fire and that's not satisfactory. What we can't have happen is for the cease-fire to end and Israel to go back to visiting its violence on the people in Gaza."

As both sides battle for the hearts and minds of the American public, the idea of a cease-fire seems like a simple idea that can be infinitely complex.

"We understand that we want an end to the violence," said Gregory.  "We're asking that a cease-fire include a return of all the Israeli hostages that Hamas kidnapped and that we remove terrorism — Hamas — from control of Gaza. We need to get back to peace building, peacemaking and that's not going to happen with a terrorist organization."

"Nobody's condoning what Hamas did," said Brotsky. "But what we are saying is the disproportionate, violent, and I would say, genocidal response from the Israeli government is what has to stop right now. And that's what a cease-fire will do, and both sides have to agree to a cease-fire."

Of course, that's the challenge. But maybe the city of Oakland can find a way to end the violence in the Middle East even if it can't do the same on its own streets.

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