Chicago joins string of US cities calling for Gaza ceasefire

Third most populous US city passes resolution demanding ceasefire, presenting political challenge for President Joe Biden

Supporters of Chicago City Council's Gaza ceasefire resolution cheer from the second-floor gallery after it passes. AP
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Chicago's City Council on Wednesday approved a resolution that called for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, making it the largest US city since October to issue such a call.

Mayor Brandon Johnson broke a 23-23 tie, voting in favour of the resolution, which also demands greater humanitarian aid for the enclave and the release of hostages.

Chicago is the third most populous city in the US and the 2020 US Census found that the metropolitan area is home to one of the largest Palestinian populations in the country.

The city was thrust into headlines in October last year when a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy was killed in a stabbing attack inspired by the Israel-Gaza war.

About 27,000 people in Gaza have been killed in Israeli military operations that began in October, shortly after Hamas militants launched a surprise attack that killed about 1,200 people in Israel.

Chicago is also hosting the Democratic National Convention this August, when the political party will officially appoint its nominee for the general presidential election this November.

President Joe Biden's administration has been a staunch supporter of Israel despite the country's growing global isolation and domestic criticism, as the civilian death toll continues to rise in Gaza.

Several other cities across the US have passed similar resolutions calling for a ceasefire since the conflict began.

San Francisco's supervisors passed a document that called for an extended ceasefire in Gaza and condemned both Hamas and the Israeli government. Mayor London Breed said it made the city “more divided” and “angrier”.

The Minneapolis City Council in its resolution said that the US should stop funding the Israeli military and called for a cessation to hostilities. Mayor Jacob Frey vetoed the resolution on Wednesday.

Last year, Detroit's City Council passed a call for a ceasefire, allowing humanitarian aid in and the release of hostages; Atlanta leaders approved a resolution that denounced Hamas and supported Israel; and Seattle's City Council issued a resolution insisting on a long-term ceasefire.

Michigan's Dearborn, Rhode Island's Providence and New York's Albany have also passed ceasefire resolutions.

Most of the resolutions also condemned anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

The resolutions are largely symbolic since they are non-binding and US cities have no say in foreign policy decision-making. However, the resolutions have been approved by elected officials who represent large groups of people.

The challenges by city councils and voters also pose a difficulty for Mr Biden's re-election hopes this November, as most US cities are Democrat-led. His campaign speeches this year have been regularly interrupted by pro-ceasefire protesters.

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Updated: February 01, 2024, 8:57 AM