The City Council in New York, where 2,792 people died in the Sept. 11 terror attack, approved a resolution opposing war with Iraq except as a last resort.

Wednesday's 31-17 vote came after months of debate about whether the council should take a position, particularly given the city's status as a symbol in the war on terrorism.

"We of all cities must uphold the preciousness and sanctity of human life," said Councilman Alan Gerson, a Manhattan Democrat who voted for the resolution and whose district includes the World Trade Center site.

Those who opposed the resolution said that because terrorism had struck so close, the city should not ignore an opportunity to depose another potential threat. City Council chambers are just blocks away from the trade center site.

Staten Island Republican Andrew Lanza urged fellow council members to look at the hole in the ground where the twin towers once stood.

"That is the price of doing nothing," said Lanza, who opposed the resolution.

The anti-war resolution was drawn up in October but stalled in back-room battles over semantics. It carries no legal weight.

The wording of the original resolution opposed a war without United Nations authority and said that such a war would pave the way for "similar actions by other rival states."

The redrawn resolution used language that allows for a pre-emptive attack if "other options for achieving compliance with United Nations resolutions calling for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and the means of their development have failed."

Recent polls show that 75 percent of New Yorkers oppose a war without the support of the United Nations. Last month, more than 100,000 people took part in an anti-war protest near U.N. headquarters.

Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg declined to say whether he supports a war. His spokesman Ed Skyler said Wednesday: "The mayor does not have an interest in formulating a separate foreign policy for New York City."