Jan 31, 2024 - News

Why cities like Cleveland would even consider a Gaza ceasefire resolution

Illustration of lectern with a crack down the middle.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Local city councils that generally deal with bread-and-butter civic issues have for months heard from activists begging them to wade into international affairs.

Driving the news: Cleveland was the primary focus of a PBS Newshour report on protests in U.S. cities over the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

  • Activists have been flooding Cleveland City Council's meetings for weeks, demanding a ceasefire resolution that acknowledges the bloodshed in Gaza and applies pressure on policymakers.

What they're saying: "It's not the case that any of our allies look to San Francisco or Cleveland to learn what U.S. foreign policy's going to be," Daniel Hopkins, a political scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, said in the PBS story.

  • "But I do think they can potentially have an impact, say, within the Democratic party in that they can signal the extent of discontent and the sources of discontent around foreign policy set by the Biden administration."

The latest: Cleveland closed the door on a local resolution Monday.

  • Council President Blaine Griffin issued a statement saying it was unfair to expect city council to produce something "fair and unbiased," and that a resolution risked alienating "people we call friends."

Between the lines: Cleveland council member Jenny Spencer released a statement Tuesday saying she chose not to introduce a ceasefire resolution when it became clear there was no realistic avenue for its passage.

  • Yes, but: She responded to those who questioned why Cleveland would even consider such a resolution by noting the Palestinian community's ongoing demands.
  • "Other city councils across the nation have passed ceasefire resolutions, creating the conditions for momentum that may capture the attention of decision-makers at higher levels of government," she said in the statement.

The bottom line: "These folks can't go meet with Joe Biden," Dean Preston, a local elected official in San Francisco, told PBS Newshour.

  • "They can't get two minutes in front of the Congress. They can come to their local city council, and that's why they're doing it."

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