El Monte City Council approves Israel-Hamas ceasefire resolution – San Gabriel Valley Tribune | #citycouncil

El Monte residents packed the April 2, 2024 City Council meeting to urge councilmembers to approve a ceasefire resolution in the Israel war in Gaza. (Photo by John Orona/SCNG)

Cheers erupted from El Monte City Hall – East Tuesday night, April 2, as the city became the latest in the San Gabriel Valley to approve a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Israeli war in Gaza.

People packed the council chambers for the second meeting in a row to call for the vote, the crowd this time filling the room with “Cease Fire Now” signs and spilling out into the hallway, where organizers kept food and drinks ready for a parade of public commenters.

The standing-room-only audience, overwhelmingly in support of the move, broke out in pro-Palestinian chants after the the resolution was unanimously approved, with some amendments, at the El Monte City Council’s meeting.

Echoes of “Cease fire now,” and “Free, free Palestine,” filled the city hall complex as the crowd trickled out.

The resolution calls for a permanent ceasefire, the release of all hostages, unrestricted humanitarian assistance into Gaza, and an immediate respect for international law by Israel and Hamas.

Dozens of speakers came out to urge the council to pass a ceasefire resolution (written comments were 55 to 1 in favor) which led to occasional outbursts from proponents when the few opposition voices spoke out.

One such dissenting comment came from former El Monte Mayor Andre Quintero, who asked the council to not approve the resolution, opposing a section that calls for both Israel and Hamas to respect international law.

“That’s a false equivalence,” Quintero said “That’s like saying ‘There’s good people on both sides.’”

The resolution approved by the council kept that section, and included an amendment that acknowledged the death toll on both sides of the conflict — noting that more than 1,200 people were killed and 240 hostages were taken when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, and that more than 32,000 Palestinians were killed and 1.9 million have been displaced since Israel’s subsequent war in Gaza.

The vote came the same day when World Central Kitchen, the food charity founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, called a halt to its work in the Gaza Strip after an Israeli strike killed seven of its workers, mostly foreigners. Several humanitarian aid organizations suspended operations in Gaza on Tuesday after the news.

Israel said it carried out the strikes by mistake and that it has launched an investigation.

The U.N. says nearly a third of the Gaza population is on the brink of starvation.

“I think it’s important that we add these numbers so as to not minimize what is going on,” Mayor Jessica Acona said. “I think it’s important that we recognize the Israelis and Palestinians that lost their lives.”

The amended resolution also changed the title to include the call for a “permanent” ceasefire, and removed the support for House Resolution 786, from which the resolution title came. H.R. 786, introduced by Rep. Cori Bush, calls on the Biden administration to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid and an end to the violence.

Councilmember Martin Herrera said he was concerned about the optics of the vote, given that some opponents of the resolution were shouted at during the meeting.

“What concerns me the most is I don’t want my vote to become an anti-Israeli voice,” he said, before ultimately voting in favor of the resolution. “I don’t want it misinterpreted that way.”

The ongoing violence has made the international conflict increasingly a topic at local city halls, with residents expressing frustration that their voices aren’t being heard on the federal level and leaving local council chambers as their only outlet.

With Tuesday’s vote, El Monte joins Alhambra, Pasadena, Pomona, Montebello and Long Beach, among dozens of other cities that have passed similar ceasefire resolutions.

In Pasadena, after weeks of demonstrations from community organizations, the city council had to move their special meeting considering a ceasefire resolution to the Pasadena Convention Center, where the resolution was ultimately approved following hours of public comments in support. A motion to agendize a similar resolution failed to gain support in the West Covina City Council in February.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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