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Riyadh to invest millions in Israeli tech via Jared Kushner’s new fund — report

Reported plan will serve as the first public instance of Saudi Arabia directly investing in Israel; two companies said to have already been selected

Senior adviser to the US president Jared Kushner attends a press conference in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on September 4, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP)
Senior adviser to the US president Jared Kushner attends a press conference in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on September 4, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP)

Saudi Arabia is planning to allocate millions of dollars for investments in Israeli tech companies via Jared Kushner’s new private equity firm, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal which cited people familiar with the investment plan.

Kushner, the son-in-law of former US president Donald Trump and an ex-senior adviser, set up Affinity Partners late last year, raising some $3 billion in committed funding from international investors, including the Saudis.

The WSJ report said Riyadh has eyed two Israeli companies for investment, though the names of the firms were not disclosed, nor the sectors in which they operate.

The report said the investment is “the first known instance that the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s cash will be directed to Israel, a sign of the kingdom’s increasing willingness to do business with the country, even though they have no diplomatic relations.”

Last December, The New York Times reported that Affinity Partners has hired some 20 people, and plans to focus on US-based investments as well as those in the Middle East. The report said the $450 billion Saudi Public Investment Fund was negotiating with Kushner over what could prove to be a sizable investment in Affinity Partners, according to two sources.

The New York Times also said in the report that while Saudi advisors were initially hesitant to contribute to the fund, Saudi Crown Prince and de-facto leader Mohammed Bin Salman reportedly intervened and pushed the investment in Affinity Partners forward.

Both Bin Salman and Kushner have very close ties, dating back to the latter’s time in the White House. In 2018, the crown prince was widely reported to have said he had Kushner “in his pocket” amid an “anti-corruption crackdown” in the kingdom that targeted dissidents and critics.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Kushner would also open an office in Israel that will promote business ties between Israel, India, Gulf states, and North Africa.

One of Kushner’s last acts as an adviser to Trump was brokering the normalization deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, dubbed the “Abraham Accords.”

Much of Kushner’s emphasis while shaping his father-in-law’s Middle East policy was on peace nurtured through investment and economic development, however, it failed to bring about a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Kushner also took a leading role in running Trump’s campaigns in 2016 and 2020, but has signaled that he is not going to be involved in a possible Trump campaign in 2024.

Kushner is the third generation in a family real estate empire founded by his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor.

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