White House senior adviser Jared Kushner delivers remarks on the Trump administration's approach to the Middle East region at the Saban Forum in Washington, US, December 3, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS/JAMES LAWLER DUGGAN)
Jared Kushner’s complex business dealings in Israel and worldwide – some of which he divested from upon entering the White House – are raising questions about how he has been exposed to conflicts of interest.
A representative of Kushner Companies, Christine Taylor, declined to comment directly on Washington Post allegations on Tuesday that officials in Israel and three other countries spoke privately about taking advantage of Kushner’s extensive real estate holdings, debt and lack of foreign policy experience.
Taylor told The Jerusalem Post
that “I have to refer you to WH [White House] for any questions on that WP [Washington Post
The Kushner family has repeatedly sought Israeli investors for their real estate company, and Kushner’s business ties to Israel are considered extensive.
Shortly before US President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel in May 2017, Kushner Companies received a $30 million investment from Menora Mivtachim, one of Israel’s largest insurers.
That deal included pumping equity into Maryland apartment projects where Kushner still has a personal stake.
He has taken out at least four loans from Bank Hapoalim – Israel’s largest bank, which is currently under American criminal probes for assisting in tax evasion.
And Kushner has had major dealings with some of the nation’s wealthiest investors, including Beny Steinmetz, who is the target of a bribery investigation.
In 2012, the Kushners and Steinmetz joined forces to buy nearly $200m. worth of apartment buildings in the New York metropolitan area.
Kushner Companies also purchased parts of the former New York Times
building in Manhattan from Lev Leviev, an Israeli-Russian tycoon.
Given Kushner’s portfolio’s responsibility to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, such ongoing business dealings may raise questions of bias, along with granting unforeseen leverage to Israeli officials.
One Menora Mivtachim executive who helped negotiate the deal with the CEO of Kushner Companies, Laurent Morali, told The Jerusalem Post last month that there was no conflict of interest and that Kushner had many business dealings with Israeli partners.
“Because a company owned by him did a deal with Israeli partners, you think it would be a conflict of interest in [peace] negotiations in the Middle East?” the Menora executive asked, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“I never thought about it. I don’t think it’s connected. We didn’t think about it before doing the deal.”
A spokesman for Kushner’s lawyer, Peter Mirijanian, did not respond to multiple attempts to reach him as of press time.
Mirijanian earlier told The Washington Post
: “We will not respond substantively to unnamed sources peddling secondhand hearsay with rank speculation that continue to leak inaccurate information.”
Separately, Kushner’s business ties to Israel are reportedly being investigated by Robert Mueller, the US special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller learned that Kushner directed a campaign to combat the Obama administration’s 11th-hour effort in December 2016 to pass an anti-settlement resolution through the UN Security Council. During that lobbying, Kushner may have contacted the Russian ambassador in an attempt to sway their UN vote.
Kushner’s family has a long personal relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has stayed over at their home. Netanyahu reportedly slept in Jared’s childhood bedroom, according to a 2017 New York Times