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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Alachua County Commission forgoes decision on ceasefire resolution

Despite massive meeting attendance, the board decided not to tackle the decision Tuesday

Nearly a hundred spectators filled the benches and lined the walls of the Alachua County Commission’s auditorium to voice their opinions on a potential resolution to urge President Joe Biden’s administration toward a ceasefire in Gaza.

The board did not vote for or against the resolution because it was not officially on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, despite more than three hours of public comment asking for a decision. Although the resolution was not officially dismissed, it seems unlikely to pass in the future. 

The board first discussed the resolution in its Jan. 9 regular meeting but moved to delay decision until Jewish, Palestinian and other interested communities could find agreeable wording for the document. 

Jewish Voice for Peace, which drafted the previous resolution, presented its revisions to the county commission Tuesday, with members taking the stand to convince the board to make an immediate decision. 

“Still after three months of horror, very few of our federal representatives have found the courage to call for ceasefire or name genocide,” said Aviva Asher, a member of JVP. “This courage must be found locally in city and county commissions. It must be found here today.” 

But Jewish leaders and community members, such as Linda Maurice of the Jewish Council of North Central Florida, said they weren’t consulted to help reword the resolution and spoke against its adoption. They believe the resolution was biased, and the commission has no grounds to rule on it. 

“What we do personally is one thing, what we do as a community is another,” Maurice said. “I really don't feel that it is within your purview to pass this resolution whether it's right or wrong.”

Commissioners Marihelen Wheeler and Ken Cornell agreed and said they believed taking an opinion on the Israel-Hamas war would obligate the county to do the same for other conflicts, such as the war in Ukraine and the Uyghr genocide in China.

“Unfortunately, weighing in on this geopolitical issue is not my job,” Cornell said. “I don’t think we should pursue this anymore at this time.” 

Despite the lengthy public comment period and support from commissioners Anna Prizzia and Mary Alford, the commission moved forward without taking a vote. Although there was no evening session scheduled, the meeting stretched until 7 p.m. 

The board will hold a special meeting Feb. 6 and meet again regularly Feb. 13. 

Contact Henry DeAngelis at hdeangelis@alligator.org. Follow him on X @hadeangelis.       

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Henry DeAngelis

Henry DeAngelis is a third-year journalism major and the City and County Commission reporter for the Alligator. In his free time, you can find him on the basketball court or deep in a good book.


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