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Irish candidate quits race for helping Israeli ex-lover

(JTA) — A popular candidate for the Irish presidency dropped out in the wake of revelations that he had sought clemency for an Israeli lover convicted of statutory rape.

Sen. David Norris, an independent, announced the end of his campaign Tuesday after key lawmakers withdrew their support because of the revelations.

"I do not regret supporting and seeking clemency for a friend, but I do regret giving the impression that I did not have sufficient compassion for the victim of Ezra’s crime," Norris was quoted as saying of Ezra Nawi, who in 1997 was convicted in Israel of having sex with a 15-year old boy.

Norris and Nawi, a gay rights and pro-Palestinian activist, had been lovers from 1975 to 1985.

Nawi sought help from Norris a dozen years after their breakup when he was on trial for statuary rape, and Norris wrote a character reference.

Norris had been favored in early polls to win the Oct. 17 elections. He was five short of the necessary 20 lawmakers to nominate him.

Upon revelation of the 1997 letter, three lawmakers withdrew support, leading Norris to conclude he could not secure the nomination.

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