A new private-equity fund started by Jared Kushner is reportedly planning to invest money from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund in Israeli businesses, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Affinity Partners, a new private-equity fund started by Former U. S. presidential adviser Jared Kushner, plans to invest money from sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in Israeli businesses, the Wall Street Journal reported on 7 May 2022.
This new move marks the first time the giant Saudi fund has invested in Israel, although the Saudi government does not have a formal diplomatic relationship with Tel Aviv.
According to the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the plans, the Affinity Partners has selected at least two Israeli startups to invest in.
Affinity Partners has raised more than $3 billion, which includes a $2 billion commitment from the Saudi Public Investment Fund, according to Washington Post.
After Saudi officials agreed Affinity Partners could invest in Israel, Kushner met with dozens of companies ranging from agriculture to healthcare to software, people familiar with the meetings told the Wall Street Journal.
Kushner did not specify which Israeli businesses the firm would be working with, nor how much money will be directed toward Israel, but the WSJ cited him saying his work in the White House “kicked off historic regional change which needs to be reinforced and nurtured to achieve its potential.”
It is noteworthy that Jared Kushner played a leading role in the Middle East policy of his father-in-law Donald Trump’s presidential administration.
Kushner, who founded Affinity Partners after leaving the White House in 2021, played a significant role in advancing Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbors while serving as a senior adviser, despite having no diplomatic experience.
He helped broker the Abraham Accords, which brought a normalization deal between Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
He developed strong ties with Saudi Arabia’s leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and was one of the leading defenders of the prince in the Trump White House after reports of U.S. intelligence holding him accountable for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who had criticized the Saudi government.
A panel that reviews investments for the Saudi Public Investment Fund—worth about $620 billion—initially objected to the proposed deal between Saudi Arabia and Affinity Partners.
Also, the New York Times reported last month that the panel raised concerns such as “the inexperience of the Affinity Fund management” and the possibility that the kingdom would be responsible for “the bulk of the investment and risk,” according to minutes from a June 30 meeting obtained by NYT.
The full board of the investment fund overruled the panel days later, the NYT reports.
Affinity Partners is also seeking to bring Israeli technology to Indonesia, another majority-Muslim country without diplomatic relations with Israel, the WSJ reports. Prior to leaving the White House, Kushner and his team were working on a normalization deal between the two countries, but the agreement didn’t come together before the Trump administration left office.