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Mayor Brandon Johnson calls for Gaza cease-fire ahead of heated resolution vote

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson backed calls for a cease-fire in the war in Gaza Wednesday ahead of a hotly contested vote on a City Council cease-fire resolution set for next week.

Asked if he supports the resolution from Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez, 33rd, Johnson said he condemned the actions of Hamas when fighting began.

“But at this point now, I believe we’re looking at 25,000 Palestinians that have been killed,” he said. “The killing has to stop. So, yes, we need a cease-fire.”

Johnson, now apparently the mayor from the biggest American city to back a cease-fire, had previously not taken a public position on the resolution. Johnson ordered City Council chambers cleared of spectators in October because of noisy protests when aldermen passed another symbolic resolution showing support for Israel following Hamas’Oct. 7 attack.

Rodriguez-Sanchez’s resolution was originally expected to receive a vote Wednesday. But she agreed to delay it after a group of aldermen led by Ald. Debra Silverstein, 50th, called for postponement, citing sensitivity concerns given that the council was also set to consider a resolution recognizing International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The Holocaust Remembrance resolution passed, though tensions over the war in Gaza continued to fill the council chambers as pro-Palestine spectators shouted. The interruptions prompted Johnson to repeatedly ask for decorum, and the council’s meeting continued with little delay.

Aldermen expect to instead vote on the cease-fire resolution at a newly scheduled full City Council meeting Jan. 31.

Meanwhile, Silverstein is circulating a new resolution that tones down the calls for cease-fire. Silverstein’s proposal drops support for a U.N. cease-fire resolution backed by Rodriguez-Sanchez’s version, and calls for Hamas to “no longer be in a position or able to attack Israelis or put Palestinian civilians in harm’s way.”

Silverstein’s new resolution also condemns “all acts of violence aimed at Palestinian and Israeli civilians” and any forced attempt to transfer Palestinians.

jsheridan@chicagotribune.com