Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver joins calls for cease-fire: 'Guns should go silent'
U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II said for the first time on Saturday that he is in favor of a cease-fire in Gaza.
The Kansas City Democrat also committed to withdrawing House Bill 6367, the Armed Conflict Migration Act, which is meant to facilitate humanitarian aid in Gaza but which critics say could inadvertently enable the displacement of Palestinians.
“We have to have a cessation of hostilities,” Cleaver told KCUR. “I think guns should go silent. We need to cease the fighting.”
Cleaver’s comments echoed those he made during a meeting with 15 constituents and advocates at his Kansas City, Missouri, office. In attendance were members of activist groups including Al-Hadaf KC and KC Tenants, whose members were among several constituents present who said they had lost family members in the bombardment of Gaza. Also in attendance were Muslim and Christian faith leaders, attorneys and members of the Palestinian American Medical Association, who spoke to the situation at the Al Shifa Hospital.
All called, respectfully but passionately and forcefully, for Cleaver to join the Ceasefire Now Resolution, co-sponsored by his fellow Missouri Democrat, U.S. Rep. Cori Bush of St. Louis, and nearly 20 other House members. Cleaver now joins the more than 30 members of Congress who have called for a cease-fire.
Since Oct. 7, when Hamas attacks killed 1,200 Israelis, Israel's military has killed at least 11,470 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. About 240 hostages captured on Oct. 7 are thought to remain in Gaza, according to NPR.
The coalition had four requests for the congressman. First was to “clarify a public stance on cease-fire, recognizing that humanitarian pauses are not enough.”
Cleaver has long called for humanitarian aid for Palestinians but has stopped short of endorsing a cease-fire.
“The only moral position is cease-fire,” said Sara Jawhari, a Palestinian-American constituent. “It is well beyond just Palestinians who are asking for a cease-fire at this point.”
The activists repeatedly pointed to Cleaver’s long career in the Civil Rights movement and said that coming out in support of ending the violence in Gaza would be in keeping with that legacy.
“We have no choice,” said Rev. Dr. Vernon Howard of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Kansas City. “We renounce the October 7th violence. We renounce the violence against innocent individuals taking place now in Gaza. We do both.”
Maha Odah, a leader from Al-Hadaf KC who led the discussion for the group, emphasized gratitude towards Cleaver for agreeing to meet and for his change of position.
The group on Saturday also requested that Cleaver withdraw H.B. 6367, sign the Ceasefire Now Resolution and continue to push for and facilitate humanitarian aid. Cleaver agreed to all but committing to sign the resolution.
Even after coming out in favor of a cease-fire, Cleaver reiterated that he did not expect that support to go far.
He said he never introduces bills to Congress that he didn’t feel would be passed and that the Ceasefire Now Resolution was such a bill, adding that a “cease-fire is something that Congress cannot politically allocate" and "there's no such thing as a unilateral cease-fire.”
But, he noted, “It's something that I guess we can at least hope for and work on.”