Speed Reads

Mideast Peace

Trump's Israeli-Palestinian peace czar Jared Kusher has growing financial ties to Israel

Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser whose once-broad portfolio has apparently shrunk to Middle East peace, has nonetheless been on the receiving end of at least one multimillion-dollar Israeli deal since he joined the White House, a $30 million infusion to his family company, Kushner Cos., right before he accompanied President Trump to the Middle East last May, The New York Times reports. In that previously undisclosed deal, Israeli insurance powerhouse Menora Mivtachim invested in Kushner-owned apartments in the Baltimore area in which Jared Kushner still has a financial stake, the Times reports.

Kushner Cos. has also teamed up with a member of Israel's wealthy Steinmetz family to buy nearly $200 million in Manhattan apartment buildings plus develop a luxury high-rise in New Jersey, and has taken out at least four loans from Bank Hapoalim, Israels' largest bank, the Times reports, noting that Beny Steinmetz and Bank Hapoalim are being investigated by the Justice Department for bribery and aiding tax evasion, respectively. Kushner Cos. is also reportedly under an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"The business dealings don't appear to violate federal ethics laws," The New York Times says, and there is no evidence that Kushner, who resigned as CEO to join the White House but didn't fully divest, "was personally involved in brokering the deal." But the Trump administration already faces the perception that more than most U.S. administrations, it is not an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and business ties between Israel and Trump's Mideast peace czar won't help that view. Kushner's family charity also donates to a West Bank Israeli settlement organization.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said the Trump administration has "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." You can read more at The New York Times.