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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student


Bloomington City Council releases draft of proposed Gaza ceasefire resolution


The Bloomington City Council is considering a resolution that calls for a ceasefire, more aid for civilians in Gaza and the release of hostages in the Israel-Hamas War during its regular meeting April 3. 

The city council released a draft of the legislation March 28, less than a day after Council President Isabel Piedmont-Smith announced she and councilmember Dave Rollo were sponsoring the resolution. 

The council will hear the resolution after more than a month of conflicting pressure from community members. While some residents have urged the council to pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire, others have asked the council to not introduce such legislation. This pressure has been the focus of public comments for the last three council meetings.   

In a memo sent to the rest of the council March 28, Piedmont-Smith and Rollo said they received a petition with hundreds of signatures urging them to pass a resolution. A petition urging the council call for a ceasefire has garnered 1,973 signatures as of Monday morning. Piedmont-Smith and Rollo also stated in the memo American taxpayer dollars were being used to provide Israel with weapons. 

“After many conversations with Bloomington residents both in favor of and against a resolution, we decided to move ahead due to what we feel is a moral imperative to speak about the man-made humanitarian catastrophe,” Piedmont-Smith and Rollo said in the memo.  

What’s in the resolution?  

The resolution calls for national leaders to work toward a multilateral ceasefire to allow more humanitarian aid in the war, which began after Hamas killed about 1,200 people in Israel during their attack Oct. 7. In response to the attack, Israel launched an airstrike campaign and ground offensive into Gaza, killing more than 32,000 Palestinians and displacing 80% of Gaza’s population 

Multiple parts of the resolution mentioned how the lack of aid available in Gaza has led to suffering and loss of life. Human rights groups have criticized Israel for restricting the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza, which has raised fears of imminent famine and spread of disease. For instance, the resolution cites a World Health Organization report stating there is widespread malnutrition in children, lack of portable water, high levels of disease and imminent famine in Gaza.  

The resolution also condemns Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israeli civilians and opposes “all violence that leads to the loss of innocent civilian lives and ongoing human suffering in both Palestine and Israel.” It calls for the immediate release of all hostages taken by Hamas during their attack. Hamas took around 250 people hostage Oct. 7 and has since released around 110 hostages. 

Additionally, the resolution urges national leaders to work towards a lasting solution to “the conflict between Palestinians and the State of Israel” but does not provide any further specifics on how to accomplish this goal. 

What is not in the resolution?  

In their memo to the council, Piedmont-Smith and Rollo said the focus of their resolution is on humanitarian concerns, not military or political causes.  

“We do not presume to know how to resolve the complicated, nuanced, long-standing conflict between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people,” they wrote. “What we intend is to speak out against the intolerable cruelty of children dying of hunger, women subjected to surgery without anesthetic, and Gazans of all ages stricken by preventable disease due to unsafe drinking water.” 

While the resolution calls for a multilateral ceasefire, it does not specify if this ceasefire should be a permanent or temporary ceasefire.  

The resolution urges national leaders to provide financial support for humanitarian aid but does not mention any humanitarian group or action. During public comment March 27, several public commenters said the resolution should be specific and ask the U.S. to resume funding the humanitarian aid group UNRWA, which the U.S. paused funding for in February. 

Although the resolution condemns Hamas’ attack, it does not include a clause stating Hamas should be disarmed something other community members argued should be included during the council’s meetings March 6 and 27.  

Notably, the legislation does not include the word “genocide." Classifying Israel’s actions in Gaza as genocide was the focus of part of public comment during the council’s meeting March 27. When one community member argued the council should avoid using “inflammatory language” and that claims that Israel is committing genocide are unfounded, several in the audience repeatedly shouted “shame!” in response.  

The International Court of Justice issued a preliminary ruling in January stating there was “plausible” evidence Israel was violating portion of the 1948 Genocide Convention. While the court ordered Israel to increase aid in Gaza and prevent acts of genocide, it did not order a ceasefire in the war. However, Israeli officials rejected these allegations and argued South Africa, which brought the case to the court, was “weaponizing” the international convention against genocide.  

Mayor Kerry Thomson says she will not sign the resolution 

Bloomington Mayor Kerry Thomson said during the council’s meeting March 27 she would not sign any resolutions addressing issues outside of city business. She said during this meeting she did not think the council needed to issue any official opinions on topics outside of city business because councilmembers and residents have opportunities to express their viewpoints during public comment.  

While Thomson made this statement during public comment on a resolution opposing a state-sponsored water pipeline, Deputy Mayor Gretchen Knapp said in an email her statement also applies to the resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.  

“Her statement applies to any resolutions outside of City business, and Council President Piedmont-Smith is aware of the mayor’s intent in that regard including matters of federal foreign policy,” Knapp said. “We have a lot of work to accomplish with Council and other partners for our city, and we need to focus all of our time and energy on that work.”  

Thomson must sign or veto resolutions that come to her desk, according to Indiana Code. Failing to sign the legislation means it is considered vetoed. Six of the nine councilmembers must vote to override her veto.  

Governing bodies for around 70 U.S. cities  including Chicago and Seattle have passed resolutions calling for a ceasefire in the war. If passed, the resolution would direct City Clerk Nicole Bolden to send a copy of the legislation to the Indiana Congressional delegation and President Biden.  

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