A report by The Wall Street Journal says Saudi Arabia is planning to allocate millions of dollars for investments in Israeli tech companies via Jared Kushner, former White House adviser and son-in-law of ex-US President Donald Trump.
The American daily newspaper, citing people familiar with the investment plan, said the allocation is to take place via Kushner’s new private-equity fund, Affinity Partners, which has raised more than $3 billion, including a $2 billion commitment from the kingdom’s sovereign-wealth fund, to invest in Israeli startups.
The WSJ report said Riyadh has selected two Israeli companies for investment, without disclosing the names of the firms and the sectors in which they operate.
The report said the investment is “the first known instance that the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s cash will be directed to Israel, a sign of the kingdom’s increasing willingness to do business with the country, even though they have no diplomatic relations.”
The American paper added that the investment “could help lay the groundwork for a breakthrough normalization pact between the two countries.”
After Saudi officials agreed Affinity Partners could invest in Israel, Kushner, who played a leading role in the Middle East policy of the Trump administration, met with dozens of companies ranging from agriculture to healthcare to software, according to people familiar with the meetings.
In talks with Saudi leaders, Kushner and his team warned them that Riyadh could lose out on access and opportunities in what they called “the Silicon Valley of the Middle East” to neighbors who had signed a normalization deal with the regime, the people said.
Kushner, who founded Affinity Partners after leaving the White House in 2021, played a significant role in advancing the normalization of ties between the Israeli occupation regime and some Arab countries while serving as a senior adviser.
Kushner developed strong relations with Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and was one of the leading defenders of the prince in the Trump White House after US intelligence determined that he had ordered the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a vocal critic of the Saudi government.
Even though Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have formal diplomatic relations, Riyadh has taken a number of steps recently toward normalizing relations with the Tel Aviv regime.
Saudi authorities were said to have given a behind-the-scenes green light to the UAE to forge ties with Israel in 2020 and have since allowed Israeli aircraft to use the kingdom’s airspace for direct flights to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
On January 6, an independent nongovernmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia said the Riyadh regime is making use of arbitrary arrests to silence vociferous opponents of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the kingdom and Israel.
The London-based rights group ALQST said Saudi officials have kept writer and researcher Abdullah Al-Yahya behind bars since December 24 last year, after he criticized normalization with the Israeli regime in a series of posts published on Twitter.