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NYC Council staffers union endorses ceasefire in Gaza, calls for divestment from Israel bonds

The council’s speaker is in discussions with members about a measure calling for an end to the Israel-Hamas war

Aides who work for the 51 members of the New York City Council, the city’s legislative body, adopted two resolutions on Sunday that address the ongoing violence in the Middle East ahead of a possible council vote on a proposal advocating for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

According to the Association of Legislative Employees union, more than 80% of union members who participated in the vote approved a statement calling for an end to the war between Israel and Hamas, along with a measure that urges the city’s pension fund to divest from Israeli investments. 

Musarrat Lamia, an aide to Councilmember Shahana Hanif of Brooklyn and a member of the committee that drafted the resolution, described the group as the largest group of legislative staffers in organized labor and located in “the largest and most diverse city in the world” with a large Jewish and Muslim population who “have a responsibility to speak up and demand an end to the violence” in Gaza. The union has 200 members. Hanif, a Bangladeshi-American Muslim and member of the Democratic Socialists of America, called earlier this year for a vote on a ceasefire resolution.

The group’s statement calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the release of Israeli hostages, and an increase in humanitarian aid. It joins a coalition of more than 200 labor organizations, called the National Labor Network for Ceasefire, advocating for a ceasefire. 

Council Speaker Adrienne E. Adams is talking with her fellow Democrats about bringing such a measure for a vote in the 51-member chamber. It was initially scheduled to be introduced at the upcoming legislative meeting on Thursday, but it may be delayed until next month amid internal and external pressure, according to two sources familiar with the matter who did not give their names due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Call for divesting from Israel 

Sunday’s vote by the aides endorsed a campaign coordinated by City Workers for Palestine, a coalition of New York City employees, that calls for the divestment from all Israeli bonds and holdings in industries that fund Israel’s military. 

New York City Employees’ Retirement System holds more than $100 million in Israeli securities. Brad Lander, the city’s comptroller who oversees pension fund investments, is the highest-ranking city official backing calls for a ceasefire and has spoken out against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. In 2021, Lander opposed the state’s comptroller office’s move to divest from Unilever, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, over the ice cream makers’ decision to end sales in the occupied West Bank.

Simon Kostelanetz, an ALE Solidarity Committee member and a Council staffer, noted that Lander directed all five pension systems to divest from Russian securities after the invasion of Ukraine in 2022. “As public servants of the City of New York, we should not have to choose between putting away money for r

This post was updated.

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