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Durango group calls for City Council support of cease-fire in Israel-Hamas war

It remains to be seen whether councilors will take the group up on its proposal
Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Oct. 8, 2023. A group called Durango Palestine Solidarity Coalition is circulating a petition online to garner support for a resolution by City Council calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

A community group called the Durango Palestine Solidarity Coalition is circulating a petition and gathering signatures in a push to have Durango City Council pass a resolution calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war.

It remains to be seen whether city councilors will take the group up on its proposal. The resolution was submitted by email to the city by coalition member Gina Jannone.

Coalition member Kaili Jang said on Friday the group is about 70 members strong, and the proposed resolution formed out of a “refusal to do nothing” in the face of a conflict that’s killed tens of thousands of people since it erupted in October.

Whether or not the call for Durango’s elected leaders to take a stance on the war is successful, the group’s resolution proposal is “raising awareness and, hopefully, having Durango be on the side of justice and love to help stop an act of genocide,” Jang said.

The resolution cites the deaths of at least 22,000 Palestinians and more than 1,200 Israelis in the conflict since Oct. 7 and proposes City Council “calls for a sustained cease-fire, provision of lifesaving humanitarian aid in Gaza, and the release of all Israeli and Palestinian hostages and prisoners.”

The resolution further calls for City Council to ask elected state officials to support the same. It also asks for City Council to condemn antisemitic, anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, Islamophobic and xenophobic speech and attacks.

Jang said the resolution is the coalition’s way of standing in solidarity with Palestinians and promoting the idea “we’re not free until we’re all free.”

In the grander scheme of things, if City Council were to pass the resolution or one like it, the city would be adding its voice to others in a collective call to Gov. Jared Polis and other elected leaders around the state and country to support a sustained cease-fire in Gaza, she said.

The Taos News in Taos, New Mexico, reported in December the Taos Council unanimously supported a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire, “unfettered” humanitarian aid and a peaceful, long-term international solution to the conflict.

The Littleton Independent reported on Thursday police escorted at least seven protesters out of a Littleton Town Hall where they shouted at Rep. Jason Crow for his support of Israel, only for the protesters to reenter the chambers and again be escorted out by police.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution on an 8-3 vote calling for an extended cease-fire, condemning Hamas and Israel, and urging the Biden administration to seek the release of hostages and delivery of humanitarian aid, The Associated Press reported on Jan. 9.

Not all municipal resolutions have called for support of a cease-fire.

Colorado Springs City Council declared in an Oct. 10 resolution “unwavering support of the people of Israel” and condemned Hamas “for its cowardly terrorist attack against Israel and the innocent men, women and children.”

In order for the resolution in Durango to gain traction with the city, a city councilor will have to bring the proposed resolution up under new business at a regular meeting, Mayor Melissa Youssef said.

A councilor would have to motion to request the resolution be added to a future meeting agenda. Another councilor would have to second that motion. If the motion doesn’t receive a second, it would fail right there, she said. After receiving a second motion, a majority vote by City Council supporting the resolution would then be needed.

Only with a motion, a second and a majority vote in favor would the resolution be added to City Council’s meeting agenda and eventually come before City Council for discussion and possible action.

If the resolution makes it that far, it would still need a majority supporting vote from at least three councilors to be adopted by the city.

Youssef said she has not yet reviewed the resolution because she’s traveling on vacation, but in her seven years on the council, City Council has typically avoided resolutions about national and international politics.

City Council tends to focus on local issues rather than broader issues on the global scale, although it has taken stances on state issues related to taxes and housing in the past, she said.

“Quite honestly, we have enough on our plate to focus on,” she said. “Plenty of controversial issues just here locally, let alone at that level.”

Jang said she doesn’t know if City Council will be receptive to the group’s calls for official city support of a cease-fire in Gaza, but she does know efforts won’t end with the proposed resolution.

“I have high hopes that we’re going to keep working through all of the barriers, whatever they may be,” she said. “I have no idea how it’s going to end up.”

She said she is new to grassroots activism and this is a learning process for many members of the Durango Palestine Solidarity Coalition. But if a resolution is not adopted or if City Council isn’t the appropriate avenue forward, the group will continue to raise awareness in other ways.

The group holds rallies in Buckley Park on Sundays and is planning demonstrations during Snowdown festivities, which is themed “Love, Peace and Snowdown” this year. Jang declined to comment about details because she doesn’t want to set false expectations.

The Israel-Hamas war started on Oct. 7 when the Palestinian militant group Hamas stormed through the blockaded Gaza strip into Israeli towns, killing about 1,200 people and claiming about 250 hostages that were taken back to Gaza, according to the AP.

The Gaza Health Ministry said on Friday 26,083 people have been killed and more than 64,400 people have been wounded since the conflict began, the AP reported.

National Public Radio reported on Wednesday that 210 Israeli soldiers have died in the war so far.

The AP says South Africa has accused Israel of genocide, which Israel has denied, and asked the World Court in The Hague, Netherlands, to order a cease-fire. The court denied the cease-fire request, but did not dismiss the notion of potential genocide or throw out the case as requested by Israel.

Reuters reported on Friday the World Court ordered Israel “to prevent acts of genocide against Palestinians and do more to help civilians, although it stopped short of ordering a cease-fire as requested by the plaintiff South Africa.”


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