Minneapolis City Council advances cease-fire resolution for Israel-Hamas war

People chant and hold signs
Sabry Wazwaz (left) leads chants of “Free Free Palestine” outside a city council meeting in Minneapolis on Tuesday.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

A Minneapolis council committee on Tuesday moved forward a resolution calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war and an end to U.S. military aid to Israel. The council voted 9-3 with one abstention to send the resolution on to the full council meeting on Thursday. 

Supporters argued that the council should use the tools at their disposal to pressure federal and state lawmakers to push for a cease-fire in the conflict, which has led to the deaths of more than 25,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip.

More than 1,100 Israelis were killed and more than 240 taken hostage during an attack by Hamas on Oct. 7, according to Israel’s military.

The resolution calls for a “full, immediate and permanent cease-fire, humanitarian aid for Gazans, an end to U.S. funding for Israel’s military, the release of Israeli hostages taken by Hamas and release of Palestinians held in Israeli military prisons. 

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People hold a large banner
Palestinian supporters and supporters of Israel hold up signs during a city council vote on a resolution supporting a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

Council Member Jamal Osman said the council had a responsibility to speak out and said the killings of 10,000 Palestinian children was especially heartbreaking. 

“Some might say we are only here for local laws but speaking out against injustice is the right thing to do,” Osman said. 

Opponents of the resolution argue that city council members should focus on local issues and not weigh in on international issues. 

Council Member Linea Palmisano called the resolution a “divisive document,” and said it doesn’t emphasize the experiences of Israeli civilians killed, kidnapped or brutalized by Hamas. 

“We are a council that should not level claims on foreign policy matters on which we are not experts,” Palmisano said. 

Council Member Robin Wonsley said the resolution sends a powerful message to state and federal lawmakers.  

“This resolution is not just symbolic. It has the power to help shift outcomes,” Wonsley said. 

In the past, the Minneapolis council has regularly weighed in on issues outside their jurisdiction, including in resolutions calling for former President Donald Trump’s impeachment and opposing the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. 

People seated on a bench hold up posters
Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas executive director Steve Hunegs (center left) sits with other Israel supporters during a city council meeting.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

Council Member Michael Rainville said council members should spend their time addressing issues in the city including addiction, homelessness and safety. 

“These words are very divisive, and they will further divide our city,” Rainville said. “They will not heal it, which is what we need to move forward.” 

Council Members Aurin Chowdhury, Aisha Chughtai, Robin Wonsley, Elliott Payne, Jason Chavez, Jeremiah Ellison, Jamal Osman, Andrea Jenkins and Katie Cashman voted for the resolution.

Council Members Michael Rainville, Linea Palmisano and LaTrisha Vetaw voted against the resolution. Council Member Emily Koski abstained. 

The resolution was originally introduced at a heated meeting earlier this month, but Tuesday’s meeting remained mostly placid. Supporters and opponents of the resolution both urged their communities to attend the meeting. 

Just 50 people were allowed into the council meeting room, but others packed into two overflow areas to watch the meeting. 

People with red-painted hands raise their arms in protest
Palestinian American poet and writer Sana Wazwaz holds up her red-painted hands while Ward 13 council member Linea Palmisano speaks during a city council meeting.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

Sana Wazwaz of the Minnesota chapter of American Muslims for Palestine said she believes it's appropriate for the council to take a stance on the cease-fire because their constituents' taxes are funding some of Israel's military costs. She said Congress and the president have been “politicizing a humanitarian catastrophe.” 

“I’d like to see this on Joe Biden’s desk. I’d like him to see that Minneapolis was the first city in the country to call not only for a cease-fire but an end to all U.S. aid to Israel,” Wazwaz said.

Ethan Roberts of the Jewish Community Relations Council for Minnesota and the Dakotas said the resolution is one-sided.

“Along with the vast majority of Jews in Minnesota, we don’t think it’s at all appropriate that the city council as one of its first items of business is taking up this incredibly divisive, antisemitic, inflammatory resolution that will do absolutely nothing to improve the lives of people in Israel or Gaza,” Roberts said. 

A person holds up a red and white sign
Jenna Haskvitz holds up a poster with a picture of kidnapped Israeli Ella Elyakim, 8, who was released in a prisoner exchange with Hamas.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

A letter sent to the council last week by the Minnesota Rabbinical Association expressed concern about the resolution, which they called “inaccurate and inflammatory.” 

“Demonizing Israel contributes to a frightening atmosphere here in Minnesota that leads to increased antisemitism and puts your Jewish constituents at risk,” according to the statement that was signed by 32 rabbis from across the state. 

A statement from Mayor Jacob Frey's office said he’ll be reviewing his options on the resolution in the coming days.

“The Council had an opportunity to support a unifying resolution calling for peace, a two-state solution, return of hostages, and cease-fire,” according to the statement from the mayor's office. “Instead, the language advanced today was one-sided and divisive.”

Supporters said more than 60 municipalities around the country have already passed resolutions calling for a cease-fire, including Atlanta, Detroit and Hastings.