By JANIE HAR
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Supervisors in San Francisco approved a resolution calling for an extended cease-fire in Gaza that condemns Hamas as well as the Israeli government and also urges the Biden administration to press for the release of all hostages and delivery of humanitarian aid.
Cease-fire advocates in the audience erupted into cheers and chants of “Free Palestine” after the 8-3 vote Tuesday on a last-minute compromise proposed by Aaron Peskin, president of the Board of Supervisors. It is more succinct than the original resolution.
Peskin, who is Jewish, acknowledged that no resolution would receive the board’s unanimous support and lamented that they could not use the opportunity to bridge San Franciscans on both sides of the issue.
“I don’t know that there’s any way to successfully do that,” he said, “given how deep the divisions and the hurt and the horror and the pain are.”
San Francisco joins dozens of other U.S. cities in approving a resolution that has no legal authority but reflects pressure on local governments to speak up on the Israel-Hamas war, now entering its fourth month following a deadly Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants.
Oakland, another Bay Area city that is politically liberal like San Francisco, unanimously approved a permanent cease-fire resolution in November after rejecting an amendment that would have added an explicit condemnation of Hamas.
But Berkeley, another San Francisco Bay Area city that is overwhelmingly liberal and inclined to side with oppressed peoples, declined to consider a resolution, with Mayor Jesse Arreguín said in a statement that such resolutions “fan the flames of hatred.”
The resolution approved by San Francisco condemns the Hamas attack as well as actions by the Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It condemns rhetoric and attacks that are antisemitic, anti-Palestinian, Islamophobic or xenophobic.
The original resolution introduced by Supervisor Dean Preston in December, who is also Jewish, included the same sentiments but also had more detail of calls for a cease-fire. His bill co-sponsor was Hillary Ronen, a supervisor whose father served in the Israeli Defense Forces.
Neither version went far enough in explicitly condemning atrocities committed by Hamas, said Supervisor Matt Dorsey, who voted no. “To do otherwise, in my view, would send a dangerous and unthinkable message that terrorism works,” he said.
Cease-fire supporters in the audience booed when he brought up documentation by Hamas militants of rape, brutality and mutilation against women in their attack, prompting Peskin to admonish the crowd to “chill out and let everybody speak.”
Supervisors said the issue has sparked an avalanche of calls and emails to their offices.
Cease-fire supporters, which include Palestinians and Jewish people, have called the resolution a common-sense stand against genocide and a declaration of the value of Palestinian lives. Opponents, including people who are Jewish, have said such resolutions are one-sided and stoke antisemitism.
In an interview before the vote, Preston acknowledged that the initial board reaction to the cease-fire resolution was mixed with supervisors resistant to taking up what has become a politically loaded issue. But momentum grew as the war continued, he said.
He also said local politicians should speak up because they have constituents who are affected and those people can’t necessarily make their voices heard in Congress.
“Everyone is feeling this locally, the pain and the grief and loss,” he said. “It is a major issue not just in the daily lives of people in the Middle East, but in the daily lives of people in our city.”