San Antonio city council won’t take up resolution on Israel-Hamas ceasefire after councilman pulls his support

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio City Councilman Manny Pelaez has rescinded his support for a resolution supporting a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, prompting Mayor Ron Nirenberg to forego scheduling it for an upcoming meeting as planned.

Pelaez, who is considering a run for mayor next year, had joined Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez (D2) and Councilwoman Teri Castillo (D5) on Dec. 20 in calling for a special meeting to consider a ceasefire resolution. The move came after weeks of activists urging the city council to take action locally.

“The City of San Antonio is calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Israel and Palestine and the return of all hostages immediately.”

Proposed resolution language

The trio originally requested the resolution be considered at a special meeting on Jan. 11, essentially adding it to the meeting already scheduled for that day. However, Pelaez came back two days later to ask for the meeting to be scheduled for February instead because he would be out of town for much of January, and he also wanted council members to have time to talk with stakeholders.

But on Tuesday, just under three weeks after he submitted his signature, Pelaez rescinded his support.

Speaking with KSAT on Wednesday morning about his decision, Pelaez said he had gone on a “fact finding mission.” After talking to “people in every sector in San Antonio,” he decided the resolution likely did not have the votes to pass, and the meeting “would have devolved into a circus.”

“I think that this topic of the Israeli-Palestinian war and its consequences in San Antonio — I think that that merits dignity and solemnity. And I think that putting people through that meeting, which was in my mind — I’m convinced it was going to devolve into a circus and be chaotic and hurtful… would have done more damage than just putting forth a resolution knowing that we were going to lose,” Pelaez said.

His withdrawal angered McKee-Rodriguez, who posted on X Tuesday night that it was “one of the weakest moves I’ve ever seen from any councilmember ever.”

Speaking to reporters about Pelaez’s decision on Wednesday, McKee-Rodriguez said, “I think what it speaks to is a(n) internalized belief that he has that we, as a council, and our constituency, and the people that we represent can’t have an intelligent, respectful conversation about this issue, which I think is false.”

Without Pelaez’s support, City Attorney Andy Segovia said there is no longer a requirement to hold a special meeting. Though, he said the mayor is “working with the city manager” and could decide to add the resolution to an agenda anyway.

However, Nirenberg made it clear he has no plans to do so. He sent a memo Wednesday saying the special meeting “will not be scheduled now that the request lacks the required support.”

When KSAT asked about the possibility of putting it onto the schedule himself, Nirenberg said, “I’ve made my thoughts on the appropriateness of the resolution very clear. So, I’m not moving forward with this meeting without the required support from a three-signature memo.

I do not think this is the right thing to do for a local community. If our focus is to address trauma and alleviate pain and… trauma within our local community regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict. We are not in a position to do that without a full understanding. And that’s not where we are with a local city council resolution.”

KSAT asked Castillo for an interview before a council meeting on Wednesday, but she referred us to a spokesman. Despite speaking with other media outlets, no one from Castillo’s office made her available Wednesday.

Instead, a spokesman texted a lengthy statement on her behalf, which said, in part, “While Council chooses to sit on its hands and abstain from a public discussion on the need for a ceasefire, more innocent civilians will continue to be killed.”

Local activists believe a city council resolution could, in part, help pressure the federal government, which has resisted calling for a ceasefire.

“People can talk about how this isn’t sort of within the scope of the city of San Antonio because they’re local government. But this is just another way that local government can carry the voice of its city, right? And the city is asking for a ceasefire,” Moureen Kaki with San Antonio for Justice in Palestine said in a Zoom interview Wednesday.

Another member of the group, Alex Birnel, told KSAT that “we need to continue to organize.”

“So we will continue to pursue a local resolution here… by other means. We will find another signature for that resolution, and we will continue to move forward with or without (Pelaez’s) support,” Birnel said.

SEE THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS

You can read the full text of city documents related to this story below:

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