A late-night vote saw an overwhelming majority of Portsmouth city councilors conclude a controversial resolution backing a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was “not germane” to city business, delivering a blow to pro-Palestine progressives who had passionately lobbied for it.

The 7-2 vote occurred shortly before midnight after Councilor Beth Moreau introduced a point-of-order questioning whether the resolution was relevant to council affairs.

Councilor Josh Denton, who helped craft the ceasefire resolution, pointed out the Durham City Council had hours earlier voted to adopt its own version and said “such an objection was not raised for a very similar resolution.”

Denton and Councilor Kate Cook, who also pushed for the resolution, cast the only votes in favor of considering the resolution.

“As a veteran, my experience in Iraq taught me that violence only fuels violence,” a visibly disappointed Denton said following the vote. “But it was when I returned home that I realized that when I was under attack, I knew that, but my family always thought I was in danger.

“So to anyone out there who’s still listening to this, regardless of what side your family’s on, if it’s Israel or if it’s Gaza, my heart truly goes out to you because you do not know when your relatives or loved ones are under attack.”

The quiet roll call vote capped an evening that kicked off with passionate debate during the initial public comment period. Pro-Palestine activists dressed in keffiyehs, several of whom noted their Jewish heritage, spoke in favor of the resolution.

Yussra Ebrahim, an organizer with Southern New Hampshire for Palestine, thanked Cook and Denton but complained they “compromised” by striking the word “genocide” from the final document’s description of Israel’s actions.

Andrea Stein Goldsworthy compared Israel’s actions in Gaza to Nazi Germany’s treatment of the Jews, adding that when she puts her second-grade son to bed at night, “I look at him sleeping, and I cry, every night, because I know there is another child with their legs being blown off.

“I do think it should be spoken about by the council because we need to come together as a community and speak out against Islamophobia and racism.”

Other Portsmouth residents who spoke in opposition to the resolution argued involvement in international affairs is not the role of the city council.

“This is not business this council should be undertaking,” Mark Kaplan said. “It is outside of the municipal governance of this council. This is not the only international affair that is important to people and I would suggest that you not get involved at all.”

Resident Larry Booz told councilors they were “elected for town matters, not international politics.”

“Portsmouth, unlike Durham, is a tourist town rich in history and culture that visitors flock to,” he added. “People come here not to get embroiled in international politics, but to actually get a little bit of a rest and a break from day-to-day life.”

The back-and-forth testimony continued for more than an hour. A motion made by Mayor Deaglan McEachern to move consideration of the resolution immediately after the testimony failed, however.

More than three hours later, well after the comment period ended and when only a few dozen people remained in the audience, councilors voted against considering the resolution. The remaining members of the public then quietly filed out of the chamber.

The scene represented a striking difference from the chaos that transpired last month when pro-Palestinian activists shut down a Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.

According to Reuters, more than 70 American cities have adopted resolutions calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Opponents cite Hamas’s brazen Oct. 7 terrorist assault on Israel, noting that an existing ceasefire was already in place at the time.