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Chicago City Council to vote on Gaza cease-fire resolution

In Europe
January 31, 2024

The Chicago City Council will vote Wednesday on a much anticipated resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

Aldermen expect a close vote on the symbolic resolution and a tense Council meeting marked by the presence of protesters. Dozens of people were already filling City Hall’s lobby early Wednesday morning, many wearing Palestinian kaffiyehs or holding signs as they waited for a chance to enter the Council chambers and speak during public comment at the beginning of the meeting.

Ald. Daniel La Spata, 1st, shared a version of the resolution Tuesday calling for a permanent cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, humanitarian aid and the release of all hostages as the war in Gaza rages on for a fourth month. The latest wording of the legislation had only minor language tweaks, despite pressure from the council’s lone Jewish member, Ald. Debra Silverstein, and others to show greater support for Israel.

The contentious debate over where the city should place its symbolic support began just days after Hamas’s Oct. 7 surprise attack, when Silverstein, 50th, led the charge to successfully pass a resolution showing support for Israel. At the meeting, noisy protests led Mayor Brandon Johnson to take the dramatic step of clearing the Council chambers of spectators.

Johnson publicly supported the latest resolution at a news conference last week.

“At this point now, I believe we’re looking at 25,000 Palestinians that have been killed,” he said. “The killing has to stop. So, yes, we need a cease-fire.”

La Spata and co-sponsor Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez have squared off against Silverstein to lobby aldermen to take their sides on the resolution. Aldermen familiar with the push on both sides predicted razor-thin margins.

Silverstein successfully pressed La Spata and Rodriguez-Sanchez to delay a vote on the resolution originally scheduled for last week by leading a group of aldermen to call for postponement, citing sensitivity concerns with a conflicting vote on an International Holocaust Remembrance Day resolution.

After intense political maneuvering and behind-the-scenes vote whipping, the resolution will face the full council Wednesday, Rodriguez-Sanchez said Monday at a news conference where labor unions including the Chicago Teachers Union endorsed the cease-fire call.

Protesters planned to rally at Daley Plaza after what pro-Palestinian organizers predicted would be a narrow victory. In the City Hall lobby Wednesday morning, where around 250 Chicago Public School students who participated in a Tuesday walkout to join the cease-fire call, a large group of police officers managed lines of people waiting to watch the meeting.

Rev. Jesse Jackson was expected to join supporters of the resolution at City Hall later in the morning to share his support.

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