Jared Kushner’s new private-equity fund is planning to invest millions of dollars of Saudi Arabia’s money in Israeli startups, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), who cited people familiar with the investment plan.
Kushner’s Affinity Partners has already selected the first two Israeli firms to invest in, the sources said, in what would be the first known case of money from the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund – the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) – being directed to Israel.
A spokesman for the $600bn PIF declined to give a comment to the WSJ about Saturday’s report.
Last month, Middle East Eye reported that Kushner, who previously acted as a senior adviser to his father-in-law, former US President Donald Trump, had secured a $2bn investment from the PFI for Affinity Partners, despite objections from the PIF’s advisers about the potential benefits of the deal.
Objections cited by the panel included: the “inexperience” of the fund’s management; a proposed asset management fee that seemed “excessive”; and “public relations risks” arising from Kushner’s previous role as Trump’s senior adviser, according to the minutes of the panel’s meeting in June.
Despite the objections, the full board of the PIF – headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a close ally and beneficiary of Kushner’s support when he worked at the White House – overruled the panel’s objections.
Normalisation ‘in sight’
The WSJ said Affinity Partners investment in Israel could help lay the groundwork for a normalisation pact between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which currently have no diplomatic relations.
While in the White House, Kushner helped negotiate a series of normalisation agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco.
The move came after the Saudi crown prince signalled that he was in favour of closer relations between Israel and other Arab nations.
In a column published in the WSJ in March last year, Kushner wrote that normalisation between Saudi Arabia and Israel was “in sight”, proclaiming that “we are witnessing the last vestiges of what has been known as the Arab-Israeli conflict”.
Kushner was the Saudi crown prince’s primary defender inside the White House following the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed by Saudi agents inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in 2018.
US intelligence agencies have concluded that the killing of Khashoggi, a former MEE and Washington Post columnist, was ordered by the crown prince, a charge the Saudi government denies.