Colorado Democrats vote against Gaza ceasefire resolution

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Shouting “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” demonstrators disrupted the opening day on the 2024 Colorado General Assembly before being escorted from the Capitol by State Troopers, on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024.

Updated at 8:42 p.m. on July 1, 2024.

Colorado Democrats voted against a resolution Monday calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. The proposal fell 40 percent to 55 percent with some members abstaining.

The state party’s Central Committee met to discuss the resolution via a Zoom call. Party members were able to speak for or against in rapid succession, with statements limited to one minute.

“I've been out knocking doors all over my district and I can tell you that I am not hearing anybody say they want us to be focused on this,” State House Rep. Judy Amabile said. “They want us to come together. They want us to work on real solutions to the problems of housing and healthcare and all of the things that we have control over. This resolution divides us. It makes it harder for us to work together on issues.”

The two-page resolution condemns both “the terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians by Hamas” and the “disproportionate military response by Israel that has led to a horrible loss of life of Palestinian civilians.” CPR News obtained a copy of the document Friday and confirmed its authenticity with party leadership.

“This is for the benefit of all Israelis as well as Palestinians, where most of the casualties are civilians and children,” Lake County Democrats Chair Christian Luna-Leal said. “This is not a divisive bill. This is something that is widely supported by most voters, not just Democratic voters, especially by young people such as myself.”

The resolution also calls for Hamas to release all hostages and calls for the “dismantling” of the “terrorist organization.” At the same time, it condemns Israel’s continued construction of settlements in the West Bank and Israeli settlers’ violence against Palestinians there. 

Several party members who voted against the resolution repeatedly called the proposal divisive and said it gets in the way of solving local issues. 

“I believe this resolution will be far more effective in dividing the Colorado Democratic Party than influencing foreign policy,” former State House Rep. Edie Hooton from Boulder said. “It concerns me that the resolution makes no mention of the loss of civilian lives due primarily to Hamas' use of Palestinians as human shields. It concerns me that there is no recognition that Arab countries in the region are not providing meaningful support to their Palestinian neighbors. It concerns me that protests against the Israeli-Hamas war have increased violent rhetoric and behavior toward Jewish Americans, Jewish Coloradans.”

The resolution stopped short of calling for the U.S. to put conditions on its aid to Israel, instead underlining support for President Joe Biden’s ceasefire proposal. The debate showed how a deep divide over Israel and Gaza extends across Democratic Party politics. 

The death toll in the Israeli offensive in Gaza has horrified many Democrats, who argue the U.S. must rein in its ally. Gazan health authorities have reported more than 35,000 people killed in Israel’s war, while Israel has estimated about 30,000, and both sides say the majority were civilians. Some Jewish Democrats say the protest movement has wrongfully tolerated people who push Hamas propaganda. They say there needs to be a clearer acknowledgment of Israel’s right to exist or to respond to the Hamas attack that killed some 1,200 Israelis, took 250 hostages and ignited the current war.

More than 300 people were in attendance, although some meetings of the committee involved more than 500 people. The committee includes party members from around the state and Democratic elected officials.