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WorldSaudi to invest in Israel through Jared Kushner’s fund: WSJ

Washington (The Times Groupe)- Jared Kushner’s new fund will invest Saudi money in Israel.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund committed $2 billion to Kushner’s Affinity Partners, agreeing for the first time to invest in Israeli firms, Wall Street Journal reported.

People familiar with the investment plan say Kushner’s fund plans to invest millions of dollars in Israeli startups, a sign of warming ties between two historic rivals.

According to the people, affinity partners has already chosen the first two Israeli companies to invest in after raising more than $3 billion, including an investment of $2 billion from the kingdom’s sovereign-wealth fund.

Saudi Arabia’s decision is the first known instance of its public investment funds heading to Israel, a sign that the kingdom is increasingly willing to do business with the country even though they have no diplomatic relations. It could pave the way for a breakthrough normalization pact between the two countries.

Using his contacts across the Middle East, Jared Kushner has developed his private equity firm.

Nearly two years after the United States brokered historic normalization deals, Israel is deepening its ties with Arab states, including the United Arab Emirates. As former president Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a former senior White House adviser, Kushner played a key role in the Abraham Accords. Also, he has established strong ties with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler. Kushner has been busy building his private equity firm since leaving the White House, a venture likely to earn him lucrative fees regardless of the success or failure of its investments.

From left, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, then-President Donald Trump, Jared Kushner and Gary Cohn at a meeting in Saudi Arabia in 2017.

Saudi officials agreed that Affinity Partners could invest in Israeli firms during the negotiations for the kingdom’s funding, the people familiar with the firm’s plans said. Working with Kushner could also open the kingdom’s economy to Israeli companies.

Saudi leaders were told by Kushner and his team that they could lose access and opportunities in what they called “the Silicon Valley of the Middle East” to neighbors who had signed the Abraham Accords with Saudi Arabia, according to the people.

According to Jared Kushner in an interview, his investment plans are a continuation of his work in the White House to advance ties between Israel and its Arab neighbors, which have refused to normalize relations with Israel until Palestinian leaders agree to create a state.

“If we can get Israelis and Muslims in the region to do business together, that will unite people around shared interests and values,” he said. “We launched a historic regional change that needs to be sustained and nurtured in order to succeed.”

Asked which companies he is working with or how much cash is likely to go to Israel, Kushner and his team declined to divulge. Kushner also declined to discuss his conversations with Prince Mohammed, who oversees the fund’s strategic decisions. Any decision to invest directly in Israel would have needed Prince Mohammed’s approval, according to people familiar with the talks.

Saudi Arabia’s $600 billion Public Investment Fund, whose board is led by Prince Mohammed and includes senior government ministers, declined to comment. The government’s media office did not respond to a request for comment.

Through investments in new industries and sprawling real-estate developments, such as a $500 billion futuristic city-state called Neom, the PIF will transform the domestic Saudi economy. Prince Mohammed told advisers and diplomats that he hopes Israelis will have a big role in developing Neom, including investments in biotechnology and cybersecurity. The prince met with then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Neom in November 2020 in a sign Saudi Arabia could join the Abraham Accords. In the U.S. and Israel, new administrations slowed the pace.

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