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Disgraced Israeli businessman helped draft ‘deal of the century’

Co-Founder and CEO of WeWork Adam Neumann onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017 at Pier 36 on 15 May 2017 in New York City. [Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch]

A disgraced Israeli businessman who is said to have received billions of dollars in backing from Saudi investment funds, has admitted to working with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, to draft the controversial “peace plan” commonly known as “the deal of the century”.

The surprise revelation was reported in a Vanity Fair article on the rise and catastrophic downfall of WeWork founder and former CEO Adam Neumann. The 40-year-old Israeli entrepreneur raised on a kibbutz in southern Israel, not far from the Gaza Strip, is said to have assigned one of the directors of WeWork to produce a slick video for Kushner that would showcase what an economically transformed West Bank and Gaza would look like. The video was shown by Kushner during his speech at the White House’s peace conference in Bahrain during the summer.

Neumann, described as a megalomaniac who believes he is “capable of solving the world’s thorniest problems”, required a bail out from SoftBank Group after a failed stock market listing left his company at risk of bankruptcy last month. The Japanese multinational is reported to be sitting on a massive cash pile thanks to a nearly $100 billion technology fund it started with the Saudi Arabian government. The rescue deal valued the company at $8bn, down from $47bn.

READ: Israel’s next move is the real danger in the US decision to normalise illegal Jewish settlements

During the height of WeWork’s fame, Neumann shared company with many powerful figures. According to Vanity Fair, he sat down with world leaders, discussing the Syrian refugee crisis with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and urban planning with London Mayor Sadiq Khan. “When Adam got in front of world leaders, it was like he started thinking he was one,” a former executive is reported saying.

In the article, Neumann is depicted as having the character of a “millennial entitlement gone insane” and guru-like “egomaniacal” who had extended his influence beyond the business world and into the world of Middle East diplomacy. He reportedly told colleagues that he was saving Saudi women by working with Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to offer women coding classes.

Neumann’s extraordinary sense of self-importance was also highlighted through details of a meeting in which he said that three people were going to save the world: Bin Salman, Kushner and himself.

Following the brutal killing of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Neumann boasted that everything could have worked out for Bin Salman if he had the right mentor. Asked who that might be, Neumann paused for a moment and said: “Me.”

READ: Trump’s administration frustrated, disappointed with Netanyahu

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