Why Are These U.S. Cities Calling for a Cease-Fire in Gaza?

crowd of people protesting the israel hamas war in detroit

Protesters hold flags and placards expressing their opinion during a Cease Fire on Gaza rally in and around Detroit. (Getty)

An expert fills us in on what these resolutions aim to accomplish.

As you’ve tuned into news regarding the Israel-Hamas War, you may have noticed a burgeoning trend: Dozens of U.S. cities are increasingly passing cease-fire resolutions. Meaning that individual municipalities (or, in some cases, counties) are voting on whether or not to call for a humanitarian cease-fire — in other words, an end to the conflict in Israel and Palestine. Many of these resolutions also call for the release of hostages and an increase in aid for Gaza. 

But cities like Hollister, Calif. or Ypsilanti, Mich. don’t typically influence international politics. So why are cities of all sizes taking steps to pass these resolutions — and what do these decisions actually accomplish? Plus, which cities have passed resolutions in the months since the conflict began? We’ve got more — read on.

Why are cities calling a cease-fire resolution?

In the nearly five months that have passed since Hamas’ October 7 attack, over 100 Israeli civilians are still being held hostage by Hamas. In Gaza, 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry. As the holy month of Ramadan approaches — it starts March 10 — and Israel plans an incursion into Rafah, the stakes to reach a deal to pause the fighting and release the hostages are growing higher by the minute. Then, there’s the growing threat that the war is creating a humanitarian disaster in Gaza. On Feb. 27, President Biden said Israel has agreed to pause its offensive during Ramadan if an agreement is reached to free some of the hostages. But the future of Israel’s involvement in Gaza remains a point of contention in negotiations.

Beth Miller, political director for Jewish Voice for Peace, tells us, “​​Polls show that 60 percent of American voters and 80 percent of Democratic voters are in favor of a cease-fire.” And while a given city passing a resolution might not impact foreign relations, Miller clarifies that the cease-fire resolutions are a form of protest that magnifies that outlook: “Cease-fire resolutions at the municipal level are one way to amplify the voices of the majority of American voters who support a permanent cease-fire…These initiatives send a message to our members of Congress and the Biden administration around what their voters want.”

What do city cease-fire resolutions accomplish?

These city-wide resolutions won’t directly affect either national or international policy. In fact, on February 20, the U.S. vetoed a U.N. resolution that demanded a humanitarian cease-fire; the U.S. argued that the resolution would interfere with ongoing negotiations to release Israeli hostages. 

But aside from applying pressure to Congress and the Biden administration, Miller says that cease-fire resolutions can raise awareness about the war for those who don’t know much about the conflict: “Local ceasefire resolutions help educate communities about what is happening in Palestine and Israel.” 

That said, Miller clarifies that the initiatives aren’t solely symbolic — they “can pave the way for city councils to take further action.” 

She adds that while many people think the Israel-Hamas war is just a foreign policy issue, it does have impacts here at home. As an example, Miller says that city governments may start implementing boycotts that could escalate the initiatives, such as divesting from or prohibiting investment in Israeli bonds.

Miller concedes that, despite the polls, there are plenty of opponents to the initiatives. She also believes, however, that the resolutions have the potential to open a dialogue about the war: “Our communities can’t live in fear of debate and uncomfortable conversations,” she says. 

U.S. Cities Calling for a Cease-Fire in Gaza

California 

Albany, CA

Alhambra, CA

Arcata, CA

Bell Gardens, CA

Cotati, CA

Folsom, CA

Fort Bragg, CA

Davis, CA

El Monte, CA

Brentwood, CA

Richmond, CA

Oakland, CA

Ojai, CA

Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, CA

New Haven Unified School District, Union City, CA

San Francisco, CA

Hollister, CA

Madera, CA

Montebello, CA

Pomona, CA

Pasadena, CA

Sacramento, CA

Santa Ana, CA

Cudahy, CA

Long Beach, CA

Lemon Grove, CA

Laguna Beach, CA

Kerman, CA

Colorado

Glenwood Springs, CO

Connecticut

Bridgeport, CT

Delaware

Wilmington, DE

Georgia

Atlanta, GA

Indiana

Bloomington, IN

Illinois

Chicago, IL

Iowa

Iowa City, IA

Coralville, IA

Kansas

Lawrence, KS

Maine

Portland, Maine

Massachusetts

Amherst, MA

Medford, MA

Greenfield, MA

Somerville, MA

Cambridge, MA

Easthampton, MA

Michigan

Kalamazoo, MI

Lansing, MI

Ypsilanti, MI

Washtenaw County, MI

Ann Arbor, MI

Canton Township, MI

Wayne County, MI

Dearborn Heights, MI

Dearborn, MI

Hamtramck, MI

Detroit, MI

Minnesota

Red Lake Nation

Minneapolis, MN

Moorhead, MN

Hastings, MN

St. Paul, MN

Missouri

St. Louis, MO

New Jersey

Union City, NJ

Prospect Park, NJ

Paterson, NJ

Haledon, NJ

New York

Albany, NY

Beacon, NY

Newburgh, NY

North Carolina

Greensboro, NC

Carboro, NC

Durham, NC

Ohio

Athens, OH

Cleveland, OH

Dayton, OH

Akron, OH

Oregon

Eugene, OR

Pennsylvania

State College, PA

Rhode Island

Providence, RI

Washington

Bellingham, Washington

Port Townsend, WA

Seattle, WA

Jefferson County, WA 

Olympia, WA

Wisconsin

Madison, WI