On December 28, the Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives unanimously adopted HR 23-15, a resolution calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Palestine. In retaliation to attacks by the terrorist group Hamas on October 7, Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip have led to more than 20,000 civilian casualties.
The Northern Marianas House characterized these airstrikes as leading to a humanitarian crisis and called on the United States to send aid to Gaza and “protect the security of innocent civilians.” The legislation also instructs the House clerk to transmit a copy of the resolution to President Joe Biden (D).
The Northern Mariana Islands’ resolution represents a political divergence from the federal government. The federal equivalent resolution HR 786, which the CNMI’s HR 23-15 explicitly endorses, has remained in Congressional committee for the last two months. Similarly, the United States voted against a United Nations resolution calling for a ceasefire, although the UN resolution nonetheless passed with sweeping support. The American opposition to a ceasefire at an international and federal level sharply contrasts with the unanimous, unequivocal support of the Northern Mariana Islands House.
It is rare that territorial governments take stances on international issues, which, for the most part, are far beyond their scope of influence. The Northern Mariana Islands’ deviation from this trend seems to be a response to widespread pro-Palestinian organizing in the territories. Monica Flores, who leads Marianas for Palestine, commended the House’s resolution while also criticizing the Guam House of Representatives for introducing what she described as “a problematic and racist resolution” regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict.
It is unlikely that the Northern Marianas Islands’ resolution will affect President Biden’s policy, which has generally been hopeful for a ceasefire but unwilling to push too hard for one. Nonetheless, the Northern Mariana Islands join a broad international consensus in support of a ceasefire in spite of opposition from their own federal government.