The Long Beach Equity and Human Relations Commission will again ask the City Council to consider voting on a resolution supporting a ceasefire in Gaza on Friday.

The commission already sent a similar request to the City Council in November. Since then, protesters have been a regular presence at City Hall, demanding council members take up the item. So far, the council has not.

The commission’s original Nov. 8 letter asked the City Council to formally call for an end to “violence in Israel and Occupied Palestine” and support a ceasefire in Gaza where fighting has raged since early October and led to thousands of civilian deaths.

As part of its meeting Wednesday, the Equity and Human Relations Commission heard public feedback on the letter and took input about what should be in their renewed request to the City Council.

Most speakers said the original letter should remain unchanged, but some took issue with language it included such as, “Israel-Palestine War” and “Occupied Palestine” and other “buzzwords against the Jewish community.”

“Our war is not with Palestine,” said Deborah Goldfarb, the interim CEO of Jewish Long Beach. “1.3 million are citizens of Israel, we’re not against Palestine, we’re against the terrorist organization, Hamas.”

Eduardo Lara, who chairs the commission, said that the crux of the letter was the ceasefire portion. He asked commission members to consider drafting a new letter that might raise the chances of it landing on a council agenda.

“My assessment is we’re going to be waiting and waiting and waiting and there may not be a local ceasefire statement,” Lara said Wednesday.

But some commissioners took issue with the idea of redrafting the letter, noting that council members have had the original document for several weeks and done nothing.

“For whatever reasons, they have chosen not to [take it up],” said Commissioner Christopher Covington, who serves as vice chair. “And as an organizer myself, I know that no action is actually an action.”

Commissioner Keyona Montgomery said she was saddened to see the council and mayor’s inaction. She said she “didn’t want to keep reinventing the wheel” if the council wasn’t going to consider the recommendation.

The commission eventually voted unanimously to draft a new suggested resolution for the council that would acknowledge the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, support a lasting ceasefire and peace in the region, and condemn anti-Arab, anti-Semitic and anti-Palestinian sentiments in the city and beyond.

It also asks for key organizations to be identified to help the council write its resolution, if it decides to take up the matter. Because Wednesday’s meeting did not include a scheduled vote on this issue, the commission will have to hold a special meeting Friday evening, which is when it will formally vote on those new recommendations being transmitted to the council.

A resolution is a non-binding vote that the council can take to support or oppose issues, policies or projects that it deems important. Most City Council members did not answer text messages and emails from the Long Beach Post asking if they would put a ceasefire resolution on their agenda for a vote.

Councilmember Al Austin said he did support the discussion while Councilmember Kristina Duggan said that this was “not an issue the city should be dealing with” adding that it would likely lead to divisions among residents.

Malinu Basu, Mayor Richardson’s spokesperson, said the mayor has been monitoring the commission’s work and was encouraged it is “now taking a more inclusive approach.”

“We will continue to monitor the Commission’s progress through the conclusion of their process during Friday’s special meeting, and, thereafter, we will evaluate next steps for the City Council to consider the committee’s recommendation in the near future, in light of the urgency of the matter,” Basu said.

Basu said Richardson supports a ceasefire. She did not address why the mayor has not placed a ceasefire resolution on the council agenda, as he or any council member can.

The commission is expected to meet Friday, Dec. 8 at 5 p.m. but the venue had not been determined as of Wednesday night.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.