Wexler leaving Congress to head peace foundation

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Veteran congressman Robert Wexler reportedly is leaving Congress to head a nongovernmental organization promoting Middle East peace.

Wexler, a Jewish Democrat who has represented his Delray Beach, Fla.-area district since 1997, told party leaders Tuesday that he will be leading the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation, the Miami Herald reported.

The center was founded in 1989 by Slim-Fast diet foods magnate S. Daniel Abraham and Wayne Owens, a Democratic congressman from Utah. Owens led the center from 1993 until his death in 2002.

While the center had something of a heyday during the Clinton administration’s intensive peace-making, it has been somewhat moribund since Owens’ passing.

Wexler, the chairman of the Europe subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, took the lead during last year’s election in campaigning for Barack Obama among Jews during the primaries. Jewish support at first was heavily behind Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Wexler angered some centrist and right-wing Jewish backers last year when he accepted the endorsement of J Street, the new dovish pro-Israel lobby.

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