Statement on San Juan County Council’s proclamation calling for a permanent ceasefire in the occupied Palestinian territories

Submitted by​ the coalition of San Juan, Lopez and Orcas Islanders who organized for the ceasefire resolution

As a group of San Juan County residents who worked to bring this urgent issue to our County Council’s attention, we are happy that the Council has passed a proclamation calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Palestine and Israel. There has been an outpouring of concern from island residents about the catastrophe taking place in Gaza and it is critical that San Juan County joins the growing chorus of local governments in Washington and across the country demanding a permanent ceasefire.

Action from our local and state governments is particularly important given that our federal congressional delegation continues to drag their feet, ignoring the majority of their constituents who want to see a ceasefire and just peace in Palestine and Israel. This resolution helps to elevate the voices of San Juan County residents as we push for our state and federal representatives, including Congressman Rick Larsen and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, to stand with their constituents and call for a permanent ceasefire. We are pleased that the Council has committed to sending this proclamation to our state and federal representatives as well as the White House and we encourage all concerned residents to continue calling our federal representatives until they come around to supporting a just peace.

However, while we appreciate that the County Council has gone on record calling for a permanent ceasefire, the proclamation does not go far enough. We were hoping to see a more accurate depiction of the crisis and we also urged them to include demands that go beyond a ceasefire to address the root causes of the crisis. The Council’s proclamation failed to explicitly condemn the devastating bombardment of Gaza and acknowledge that the wholesale destruction of Gaza and displacement of its people amounts to genocide against the Palestinian people. Instead, the Council’s proclamation simply called it ‘a conflict or war between Israel and occupied Palestine’, which inaccurately characterizes this as a war between two equal forces. Our local government should join the growing number of international human rights organizations, including UN officials, who are calling the tragedy what it is: an Israeli genocide against the Palestinian people.

One other glaring omission is any reference to or condemnation of the US government’s role in financing the Israeli military and providing the bombs and military equipment that are being used to destroy Gaza. The US sends $3.8 billion in military aid annually to Israel, with Washington state contributing around $118 million of our taxpayer dollars. This funding is directly perpetuating the ongoing genocide and has helped maintain an apartheid regime for decades. We believe that any proclamation from our elected officials should acknowledge our own government’s complicity, and call for the US to stop sending weapons and aid to Israel.

We believe words really do matter, and accuracy is important in order to address what is actually happening in Gaza, and also to shift away from a culture of silence and complicity.

The public process surrounding the proclamation’s passage was also challenging. We expected more of a constructive dialogue with the Council, but instead the draft proclamation was not made public, even as the County Council discussed the matter.

We want to thank all of the San Juan County residents who have taken the time to email County Council representatives, in particular all who gave moving testimony at the Council meeting, and to all who continue to push for justice in Palestine.