Middle East

Israeli firm’s $30m investment in Kushner-owned properties raises questions

The White House has tasked Jared Kushner with leading the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians (Reuters)

Shortly before White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner travelled to Israel with President Donald Trump in May 2017, one of Israel’s largest financial companies, Menora Mivtachim, dumped a $30m investment into several Maryland apartment complexes owned by Kushner’s firm, according to a report by the New York Times.

Trump’s administration has tasked Kushner with leading the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, but the recent disclosure highlights Kushner’s deep financial ties with Israel and its institutions.

To join the White House, Kushner was required to sell parts of his business, Kushner Companies, but he still has a stake in the Baltimore apartment complexes that received Menora Mivtachim’s money, raising questions on potential conflicts of interest.

“I think it’s reasonable for people to ask whether his business interests are somehow affecting his judgment,” Matthew Sanderson, a government ethics lawyer, said to the Times.

Are you comfortable with having Jared Kushner be the beneficiary of huge amounts of Israeli financing at the same time he's overseeing US foreign policy on Israel? In order to decide, just review some of the core facts: pic.twitter.com/WwYCjN5e9k

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 7, 2018

Both Kushner Companies and Menora Mivtachim have denied any wrongdoing.

Kushner Companies “does no business with foreign sovereigns or governments, and is not precluded from doing business with any foreign company simply because Jared is working in the government”, said spokeswoman Christine Taylor.

“The connection to the president was not an issue. It didn’t make us do the deal, it didn’t make us not do the deal,” said Menora Mivtachim executive Ran Markman.

Kushner is a staunch supporter of Israel and is a family friend of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. When Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Kushner in June, a Palestinian official said that Trump’s son-in-law "sounded like Netanyahu's advisers and not like fair arbiters".

Prior to his White House appointment, Kushner was the CEO of Kushner Companies and publisher of the right-leaning news website, the New York Observer, which ran a widely shared story of a recording where Hillary Clinton says the US should have “done something” about the Palestinian elections in 2006 to ensure that Hamas did not win.

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