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San Francisco Becomes Largest US City to Back Gaza Ceasefire

The city's resolution calls on the Biden administration and Congress to follow suit.

People gather at Noe Valley Town Square for a ceasefire vigil in solidarity of Palestine and protest Israeli attacks on Gaza, in San Francisco, California, on January 6, 2024.

San Francisco has become the largest city in the U.S. whose elected leaders have approved legislation calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza — a resolution that Palestinian rights advocates in the city have been rallying for for weeks.

The resolution passed the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in an 8 to 3 vote on Tuesday, with a veto-proof majority. It calls for a “sustained” ceasefire in Gaza and the release of all hostages, noting the killing of Palestinian civilians in Israel’s genocidal assault as well as the deaths of Israelis on October 7. The resolution also condemns antisemitic, anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic attacks that have been on the rise in recent months.

“All human life is precious, and the targeting of civilians is a violation of international humanitarian law,” the resolution reads.

San Francisco joins its neighbor, Oakland, whose city council voted unanimously to pass a similar measure in November, and dozens of cities across the U.S. that have passed ceasefire resolutions so far. The largest cities to approve a ceasefire other than San Francisco are Detroit and Atlanta.

Nearly 400 people were in attendance at the meeting on Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Times, with nearly 200 people speaking up in favor of a ceasefire and only one person speaking out against the idea. After the resolution passed, people in the chamber burst out in celebration, clapping and chanting “free, free Palestine.”

Activist groups like Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) Bay Area and Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) Bay Area celebrated the passage, saying that the resolution was the result of pressure from dedicated activists over the past months, with advocates regularly packing into city council meetings and contacting their representatives to advocate for the legislation.

“As our federal politicians continue to ignore their constituents calling for a permanent ceasefire, it is incumbent upon local leaders to pass local resolutions to further demonstrate the unequivocal will of the people,” JVP Bay Area said in a statement to Truthout.

“We are grateful to the leadership of the Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC), and to the diverse coalition who made public comments in support of the ceasefire resolution,” the group continued. “The persistence of this coalition of activists and neighbors from across San Francisco reminds us that change is possible and fuels our commitment to mobilizing for a permanent ceasefire and a free Palestine.”

The resolution was introduced by Supervisor Dean Preston and cosponsored by Supervisor Hillary Ronen. Supervisors have noted that they have seen more constituent engagement on the ceasefire resolution than on any other issue.

“This crisis has directly affected our constituents, and we should be doing everything we can to support and amplify their calls for peace,” Preston said in a press release after the vote. He additionally thanked activists for taking time to speak out on the ceasefire after the vote and called for other cities to pass similar legislation.

In the resolution, the supervisors note the vast amount of military funding that the U.S. is providing to Israel, and directly call for the Biden administration and Congress to back a ceasefire. Preston says that he hopes the resolution passage will put pressure on federal lawmakers to follow suit.

“We’re going to start something here today that’s going to take off across cities all over the United States,” Ronen said, per the Los Angeles Times. “And if enough of us speak out, President Biden will have to listen.”

Note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Jewish Voice for Peace Bay Area.

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