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Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Pro-Israel Stalwart, Will Retire From Congress

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., a congressional leader who has been a staunch defender of Israel and the rights of Holocaust survivors, is leaving Congress.

Ros-Lehtinen, a GOP moderate who has sharply criticized the policies of President Donald Trump, told the Miami Herald on Sunday that she simply no longer felt the drive to run again and is retiring at the end of her current term.

“There was no epiphany. There was no moment, nothing that has happened that I’ve said, ‘I’ve got to move on,’” Ros-Lehtinen, 64, told the newspaper. “It was just a realization that I could keep getting elected — but it’s not about getting elected.”

Ros-Lehtinen, who is Cuban-born of Jewish descent, took a special interest in Israel during her career.

Elected in 1989 from her diverse South Florida district, she was the first Cuban elected to Congress.

She remained popular in a district that trended increasingly Democratic, defeating her rival by 10 points in November while Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, bested Trump by 20 points. Ros-Lehtinen broke with Trump on his immigration policies and his embrace of the far right.

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