Conflict of interest concerns over Kushner ties to Israeli real estate
WASHINGTON — A real estate company owned by the family of Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law turned senior adviser tasked with leading his Middle East peace initiative, has reportedly entered into new business relationships with Israeli financial institutions during his short time in government.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that Kushner’s firm received an investment nearing $30 million from Menora Mivtachim, one of Israel’s largest insurers, in the spring of 2017, shortly before Kushner visited Jerusalem with the president on an official visit.
Menora’s injection of cash went to development projects in Maryland in which Kushner still has personal stakes, according to the report, which notes that the specific transaction does not appear to violate the letter of US ethics law.
Nevertheless, Kushner’s role as leader of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process brings his business ties to Israel under exceptional scrutiny. And Kushner’s business partnerships in Israel are already known to be extensive. He has taken out at least four loans from Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank and the bank is currently under criminal investigation in the United States, and has had major dealings with some of the nation’s wealthiest investors, some of whom are also under bribery investigations.
Kushner’s family has also donated to pro-settlement groups.
“We have tremendous confidence in the job Jared is doing leading our peace efforts and he takes the ethics rules very seriously and would never compromise himself or the administration,” a White House spokesman told The Jerusalem Post. “In consultation with the Office of the White House Counsel, he is fully complying with federal ethics rules.”
One of Kushner’s lawyers, Abbe Lowell, told the Times, “Jared Kushner has not been involved in, nor spoken about any Kushner Companies’ activities or project, since shortly before the inauguration. He has an ethics agreement, reviewed by lawyers, with which he is in full compliance. Connecting any of his well-publicized trips to the Middle East to anything to do with Kushner Companies or its businesses is nonsensical and is a stretch to write a story where none actually exists.“
Kushner’s ties to Israel are also reportedly a subject of inquiry by Robert Mueller, the US special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, after he discovered that Kushner directed a campaign to combat the Obama administration’s eleventh hour effort in December 2016 to pass an anti-settlement resolution through the UN Security Council.
Kushner at that time was a private citizen.