The Minneapolis City Council voted to overturn Mayor Jacob Frey’s veto of its resolution calling for a permanent ceasefire in Israel and Gaza by a 9-3 vote with one abstention. It was the same vote outcome as the Jan. 25 meeting when the resolution was adopted, and the exact number of affirmative votes needed to override.
By rules of order, there is no discussion when a veto comes back to the council to vote to overturn.
After the vote, pro-Palestinian voices in the crowd, which was the vast majority of the council chambers, cheered loudly, which drew a rebuke from Councilmember Andrea Jenkins.
“These issues are way too serious,” Jenkins said. “This disrespects the loss of life [of] Israelis [and] Palestinians. This is not a football game or a spectator sport.”
In a press conference after the vote, Frey said that he was supportive of a ceasefire, and has told councilmembers publicly and privately that was the case.
“Cities across the country from Hastings to San Francisco have passed ceasefire resolutions that can effectively bring people together,” Frey said. “They’ve honored the unique and complex history of this region and honored the unique and complex history of a number of different people that have lived there for many millennia. This resolution does not do that. This is not a normal ceasefire resolution.
“There were more than a few opportunities for us to come together. Sadly, I’m not sure that that was the goal. There were more than a few opportunities for us to provide a sense of belonging for both Jews and Arabs [who] live in Minneapolis. Sadly, that was not achieved.”
Frey said that the choice to veto wasn’t merely symbolic; he thought there was a chance that one of the councilmembers — with some close to the council suggesting it would be Jenkins — might have either voted against the resolution this time around or abstain. She had asked if discussion of the resolution would be allowed prior to her vote. After the meeting adjourned, she said: “I denounce antisemitism, Islamophobia, seism, racism, ableism, and all forms of discrimination. Please respect your neighbors. The main role of the city council is to keep the residents of Minneapolis safe.”
As the city council was overriding his veto, Frey issued a proclamation that he says articulates his position, calling for: “A full, immediate, and sustainable ceasefire, along with urgently needed humanitarian aid as a necessary step towards lasting peace; The release of all Israeli hostages taken by Hamas, and the release of any Palestinians unjustly held by Israel; The investment of federal, state, and City funds towards efforts abroad and domestically to create the conditions for reconciliation, which are necessary for the self-determination and peaceful, safe futures for both Palestinians and Israelis; and a two-state solution, recognizing the sovereignty of both Israeli and Palestinian states.
Frey said that the proclamation was his position as mayor; the city’s position is the resolution that the council voted on, and then overrode the veto of.
Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, called the entire resolution process, which has lasted for the past month, a “terrific waste of time.”
“It’s an erasure of Jewish identity and a complete caricature of the complexity of the Middle East and Israel’s role in it,” he said. “If you read the comments where stories are posted, the vast majority of people recognize this is not within the domain of the city council and just brings discredit up on the city.”
Frey said he would have supported a resolution that wasn’t one-sided.
“The ‘context’ that was provided in this resolution, I believe in the second paragraph, only provides context for the Palestinian people,” he said. “Which is important. But we can’t be entirely picking and choosing which histories and stories to follow in which histories and stories to ignore.
“There is a message around peace and ceasefire that truly resonates across so many different ethnicities and religions in Minneapolis. But…I can’t stand by and let an entire community be pushed aside and an entire history lack acknowledgment in a resolution that becomes the permanent position of our city.”
Nearly 20 organizations, including Jewish Voice for Peace Twin Cities and IfNotNow MN, have signed on to the resolution in support of a permanent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, supporting Palestinian human rights, and “urgently needed humanitarian aid.” The resolution also calls for: “an end to U.S. military funding to the State of Israel, and an end to U.S. tax dollars contributing to humanitarian catastrophe and loss of life; ensure the release of all Israeli hostages taken by Hamas; and ensure the release of thousands of Palestinians held indefinitely without cause and trial in Israeli military prisons.”
The JCRC said the views of JVP and IfNotNow are not representative of the majority of the Jewish community.
Hunegs said he was proud of Frey for expressing his Jewish identity.
“He was a rational player in this process, as were councilmembers [LaTrisha] Vetaw, [Michael] Rainville, and [Linea] Palmisano,” Hunegs said, citing the three councilmembers who opposed the resolution. “It’s important that their words and their actions are held up as exemplary in these circumstances.”