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Alameda City Council debate over Gaza ceasefire resolution ends in stalemate

Alameda City Council debate over Gaza cease-fire resolution ends in vote stalemate
Alameda City Council debate over Gaza cease-fire resolution ends in vote stalemate 01:58

A discussion about the Israel-Hamas War and a letter written by the city's mayor kept the debate going late into Tuesday night and Wednesday morning ending in a tie vote that failed to get a motion passed in support of a ceasefire in the conflict.

"What I am trying to do is come down on the side of humanity and we can do that," said Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft at the meeting. "This is something where it is right to make our voices heard to lobby our federal officials. If you all are saying 'no that's fine,' it just makes me wonder what did we learn from history."

Mayor Ashcraft wrote a letter on behalf of the council to send to federal officials regarding the ceasefire. The letter was on the agenda Tuesday night as an item to be considered by the council for authorization.

"On behalf of the City of Alameda, we join thousands of our fellow Americans in demanding that the U.S. government pursue an immediate ceasefire between Hamas and Israel," the letter said in part. "While we unequivocally condemn Hamas for its barbaric attack on October 7, and recognize Israel's desire to ensure the safety of its citizens, the ongoing destruction of Gaza and escalating humanitarian crisis does nothing to achieve that objective."

While some council members were sympathetic of the move to take a position on the ceasefire, others expressed concerns about the language used by some supporters of the ceasefire. The mayor clarified that those terms were not in the letter. Other council members objected on the basis of what was appropriate for city leaders. The divisiveness of this issue and its impact on the community was also brought up by council members.

"I actually don't think it is appropriate for us to hear this issue because it's outside the jurisdiction of our charter," said Councilmember Trish Herrera Spencer during the meeting.

The meeting went past midnight in part because of the public comment. Some residents expressed their support for the message of the letter while others were upset by the decision for the council to take on this issue and take this specific position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Cease fire now so humanitarian aid wouldn't even need to be delivered to Gaza," said Ryan Marr, one of the residents speaking at the meeting. "Ceasefire now so babies wouldn't need to get amputations without anesthesia. ceasefire now to stop Israel's egregious abuse of power in the name of eradicating Hamas."

"I'm truly sickened by the entitlement of the Alameda City Council that's demonstrated by this letter," said Tierra Fitzgerald White, another resident at the meeting. "You all are sitting in positions of privilege and security here in California, and yet you feel you can cast stones at the government of Israel for responding to terrorists."

The council ultimately did not vote on whether to approve the letter but instead considered a different motion in support of a current resolution introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The resolution also calls for a ceasefire as well as humanitarian aid to Gaza. That motion by the city council failed with a 2-2 vote and the meeting was adjourned just before 1:00 a.m.  

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