Hawaii is the first state to pass a Gaza ceasefire resolution. Here's what happens next

Hawaii is the first state legislature to call for a permanent and immediate ceasefire in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Known as the Hawaii Ceasefire Resolution, the state House and Senate approved the measure last week. The declaration is not a law and does not need Gov. Josh Green's signature.

According to the resolution, the Aloha State lawmakers are demanding that President Joe Biden's administration “facilitate the de-escalation of hostilities to end the current violence, promptly send and facilitate the entry of humanitarian assistance into Gaza, including fuel, food, water, and medical supplies, and begin negotiations for lasting peace.”

Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel killed 1,200 people and 253 were taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies, and subsequent military assaults on Hamas-governed Gaza by Israel have led to over 34,000 deaths, according to the local health ministry. This has displaced nearly all of its 2.3 million population, widespread hunger and led to genocide allegations that Israel denies.

Despite the resolution, tensions amongst local activists remain high, and it remains unclear if the symbolic resolution will lead to actual change.

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Hawaii’s Jewish community is at odds with the resolution

While most public testimony supported the bill, several dozen advocates from Hawaii’s Jewish community raised concerns that a ceasefire might not ensure lasting peace in the region.

Nicky Watts, chair of Hawaii’s Jewish Community Relations Board told USA Today that she supports a two-state solution but believes it will remain elusive until Hamas is eliminated.

“The idea that Israel should stop their military mission to remove Hamas, based on this idea that Israel is the original aggressor, (isn’t true), added Watts. “We had a ceasefire two months ago, and it was broken by Hamas. There was a ceasefire in place when October 7th happened, and it was broken by Hamas.”

Watts also said it was inappropriate for a state legislature to pass a resolution to influence U.S. foreign policy.

“Our communities nationwide are being allowed to become radicalized. And it’s happening in our universities, and it’s happening in our legislation now,” Watts said. “And the only people that get hurt by having the states touch this topic are the local people.”

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Hawaii's Muslim community: the resolution sends a powerful message

Hakim Ouansafi, volunteer chairman for the Muslim Association of Hawaii, commended the state legislature for approving it.

“I firmly believe that Hawaii’s state resolution holds immense potential to influence not only our state’s congressional delegation but also the Biden administration,” Ouansafi told USA Today. “While some may perceive them as merely symbolic gestures, I see them as powerful tools for advocating our state’s interests and priorities on the national stage.”

Ouansafi did acknowledge that peace will remain elusive unless all issues in the region are addressed. “While a ceasefire agreement in Gaza is undoubtedly a crucial step towards peace in the region, it must be accompanied by efforts to address the root causes of the conflict,” Ousansafi said.

Tensions remain high 

A local activist group known as “Hawaii for Palestine” announced upcoming rallies and teach-ins for Palestine on Thursday at the University of Hawaii. They also demanded that the university disclose all of its assets, withdraw funds from institutions connected with Israel, and boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions.

Meanwhile, Watts told USA Today that Jewish activists are lobbying state government to mandate Holocaust education in Hawaii’s public schools. Rep. Luke Evslin (D) introduced a bill but the House education chair, Rep. Justin Woodson (D), did not take it up.

“We’re waiting for after the legislative session," said Watts. "He [Woodson] is going to help me discuss Holocaust education with the Department of Education, which is how he thinks that should actually be handled.”

Jeremy Yurow is a politics reporting fellow based in Hawaii for the USA TODAY Network. You can reach him at JYurow@gannett.com or on X, formerly Twitter @JeremyYurow.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hawaii is the first U.S. state to adopt a Gaza ceasefire resolution