Two California cities call off flotilla votes


(JTA) — Two California city bodies called off votes on resolutions condemning Israel for intercepting a Gaza-bound flotilla.

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Vice Mayor Jeff Ritterman, who is Jewish, withdrew their proposal Tuesday night from the City Council agenda and referred the proposal to the Human Relations Commission, according to reports. Dozens of people attended the meeting.

The resolution criticizes Israel for intercepting and boarding the ship in international waters, and says Israel’s blockade of Gaza violates human rights. It also supports the United Nations Security Council condemnation of the flotilla clash, which resulted in the deaths of nine passengers, and calls for an independent, thorough, credible and transparent investigation into the incident.

Two residents of Richmond were passengers on the Marmara, the Turkish-owned ship on which the passengers turned violent when Israeli naval commandos boarded on May 31.

After more than four hours of public debate at the Tuesday night meeting of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the board decided not to vote on the resolution, instead sending it to committee.

Earlier Tuesday, each side in the debate held a lunch hour rally outside City Hall, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Police had to separate the demonstrators several times.

The San Francisco resolution condemns the interception of the flotilla and Israel’s blockade of Gaza, saying it "collectively deprives the entire population of Gaza of adequate provisions” and mainly affects children and the elderly. The resolution does acknowledge Israel’s requirement to protect its South from rocket attacks from Gaza.

The Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission considered a similar resolution at a meeting June 7, but tabled a decision until its next meeting on July 12. The commission makes recommendations to the Berkeley City Council.

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