JERUSALEM — Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has deep business and personal ties to Israel that could raise questions about his ability to serve as an honest broker as he oversees the White House’s Mideast peace efforts.

But some say these ties, which include a previously undisclosed real estate deal in New Jersey with a major Israeli insurer, may give Kushner a surprising advantage as he is expected to launch the first peace talks of the Trump era. Having the trust of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the thinking goes, could make Kushner well positioned to extract concessions from the hard-line Israeli leader.

Kushner’s family real estate company has longstanding and ongoing deals with major Israeli financial institutions. These relationships, along with a personal friendship with Netanyahu and past links to the West Bank settler movement, could emerge as potential stumbling blocks by creating an appearance of bias.

Harel Insurance Investments & Financial Services Ltd. confirmed that it shares ownership and profits on a New Jersey apartment building with the Kushner Companies. Harel informed The Associated Press of the joint investment and said it had not previously announced it publicly. In addition, the Kushner Companies confirmed longstanding relationships with two major Israeli banks that have been investigated by U.S. authorities for allegedly helping wealthy clients evade U.S. taxes.

“Financial investments in Israel would seem to only further complicate conflicts of interest issues,” said Larry Noble, senior director of regulatory programs and general counsel at Campaign Legal Center, which advocates for strong enforcement of campaign finance laws.


Jared Kushner headed the billion-dollar family firm before joining the White House as a senior adviser in January. As a condition to taking the job, Kushner has agreed to file a financial disclosure report and divest some holdings that could create a conflict of interest.

While Kushner’s role in Mideast diplomacy remains unclear, Trump has said his son-in-law will work to “broker a Middle East peace deal.”

Last week, Jason Greenblatt, a White House envoy who reports to Kushner, paid his first official visit to the region, holding a series of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials on what was billed as a listening tour to sound out the sides.


As the U.S. pushes forward, Kushner’s family’s business and personal ties to Israel have raised questions over his ability to mediate.

“Of course the Palestinians are not happy dealing with Jared Kushner … but they have no other options,” said Palestinian political analyst Jehad Harb. “Kushner and the whole new American team assigned to handle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict … have very close ties with settlements (and) it’s unlikely they are going to understand the Palestinian demand of dismantling most of the Jewish settlements, but the Palestinian Authority cannot say no at this stage.”

Indeed, Palestinian officials appear mindful about alienating the new U.S. administration with going public with grievances about a feared bias. And they seem relieved in recent weeks to be in contact with various U.S. envoys and at signs the administration is moving away from early positions that pleased Israeli nationalists, such as the notion of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The newly disclosed deal with Harel, one of Israel’s biggest financial groups, was for a multifamily residential building in New Jersey with Kushner, the Israeli insurer said.

Harel would not say when the property was purchased, how much it cost or even give its address, though it said it was a “relatively small” investment. The company, which trades on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, managed some $50 billion in assets as of the end of 2015, according to its website.

Harel said it has also partnered with Kushner on a much larger deal: A consortium of lenders that provided some $50 million to the Chetrit Group and JDS Development, two New York firms that are trying to build a 73-story residential tower that aims to be Brooklyn’s tallest. The loan was repaid and “yielded a handsome profit,” Harel said in a statement.

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