After weeks of protests, Sacramento council to consider cease-fire resolution Tuesday

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After weeks of protests shutting down council meetings, the Sacramento City Council will consider adopting a Gaza cease-fire resolution Tuesday.

Unlike all the dozens of other cities across the country that have passed cease-fire resolutions in recent months, Sacramento’s includes input from leaders in both Sacramento’s Muslim and Jewish communities, stated the resolution, proposed by Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

“In the midst of great mourning, anger, and fear over the war in the Middle East, I’m calling on our community to once again choose hope over continued division,” Steinberg said in a news release. “The resolution contains language important to all sides. It also includes some provisions that each side would write differently if they wrote it themselves. That is the nature of principled compromise. We may not be able to create peace in the Middle East, but we can model what we want to see throughout the world here in our own city.”

Leaders of the Sacramento Valley Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations support the resolution, the release said, as well as prominent members of the Jewish community.

“Sacramento is a community that always comes together to support each other during challenging times,” said Basim Elkarra, CAIR-Sacramento Valley/Central California Executive Director, in the release. “Calling for a ceasefire and acknowledging each other’s perspectives is a significant step for our communities. Our mutual desire for humanity and peace is something that can only be realized through discussion and dialogue.”

The resolution states a similar sentiment: “Nothing we say or do in Sacramento may change the course of the war for Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank,” the resolution draft states. “But there are other compelling reasons for our city to speak out in support of an immediate, bilateral, and permanent ceasefire. This ceasefire resolution stands out from those passed by other jurisdictions in California and around the nation because it represents a principled compromise. Leaders from both the Muslim and Jewish communities in Sacramento had input into the language, which includes important principles and concessions from both sides ... This resolution appropriately calls for a permanent end to the bloodshed and upholds the spirit of mutual understanding and support that defines Sacramento.”

The resolution calls for “an immediate and permanent bilateral ceasefire.” It also calls for Hamas, a militant Palestinian Islamic organization operating in opposition to Israel, to release all Israeli hostages and for entry of unrestricted humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, an area of about 140 square miles that is one of the most densely populated places in the world.

It also recognizes “that thousands of Palestinians are held unfairly, unjustly, and without charge in Israeli prisons.”

It advocates, as Steinberg has in the past from the dais, for a “two-state solution.”

“The city of Sacramento recognizes that the current crisis takes place within a long history and affirms, that for a pathway to lasting peace and justice to be developed, a two-state solution must exist, with one Jewish state and one Palestinian state existing side by side; where each side recognizes the others’ historic ties to the land, and the right for both peoples to peacefully exist in that land.”

Council members Katie Valenzuela and Mai Vang on Jan. 24 proposed a ceasefire resolution, but Steinberg had not placed it on the agenda until Thursday. Steinberg, who is Jewish, has been visibly conflicted from the dais. In one meeting, as he saw some Palestinian allies preparing to leave before giving public comments, he urged them to return, calling them “brothers.”

Steinberg wrote a Jan. 27 opinion column in The Sacramento Bee stating he would not place the cease-fire resolution proposed by Vang and Valenzuela on an agenda.

The new resolution includes different wording than the one Vang and Valenzuela originally proposed, but they will support it, they each told The Sacramento Bee Thursday.

Councilwoman Lisa Kaplan, who is Jewish, did not immediately provide a comment on whether she will support the resolution.

Over 70 cities in the country, including Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco, have passed resolutions on the Israel-Gaza war, with most calling for ceasefire, Reuters reported. They aim to pressure President Joe Biden to help end the fighting ahead of the November election.

The council meeting will take place at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Sacramento City Hall.