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Then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem in January. Photo. Emil Salman/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The boss of Israel's spy agency has been in private talks with former Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin about joining his investment fund that will work with Gulf countries, two sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Yossi Cohen, director of the Mossad, is retiring next week. But the discussions between him and Mnuchin occurred while he was still serving in his government role, which also included handling Israel's ties with Gulf countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, these sources said.

  • Cohen and a representative for Mnuchin declined to comment when Axios approached them about these discussions. A source who spoke to Cohen said no final decision has been made about him joining Mnuchin's fund.

State of play: Mnuchin's fund is expected to raise money from sovereign wealth funds in the Persian Gulf region. Funds for Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are evaluating cooperation with Mnuchin, according to sources familiar with their deliberations.

  • Former U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman also has discussed joining Mnuchin's fund. Friedman worked with Cohen during the Trump presidency on many issues, including Israel's relations with Gulf countries.
  • They resulted in a series of direct normalization agreements between Israel and several Arab countries known collectively as the "Abraham Accords."

The big picture: Both Mnuchin and Cohen worked closely with Qatar, the UAE and other Gulf states as part of their government jobs and traveled to the region several times.

  • The Mossad has been working closely with Qatar in recent years on the issue of Gaza. This work continued during the recent crisis, with the Israeli spy agency passing messages to Hamas via Qatar.
  • Israel has approved and sometimes requested Qatari transfers of hundreds of millions of dollars to Hamas-controlled Gaza. This has given Qatar sizable diplomatic influence.

Go deeper

Aug 18, 2021 - World

Scoop: CIA director raised China concerns with Israeli prime minister

The U.S. has raised concerns about Chinese investment in the Port of Haifa project. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty

While visiting Israel last week, CIA director Bill Burns told Prime Minister Naftali Bennett the U.S. was concerned about Chinese investments in Israel, particularly in the tech sector, and involvement in major infrastructure projects, Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: That's the highest level at which the Biden administration has raised an issue that previously became a rare point of contention between the Trump and Netanyahu governments.

Biden pledges to double U.S. climate funding to developing nations

U.S. President Joe Biden addresses the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly on September 21, 2021. (Eduardo Munoz-Pool/Getty Images)

Staring down a "borderless climate crisis," President Biden told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday that the U.S. will double public financial assistance to developing countries, including money to help them adapt to present-day climate impacts.

Why it matters: The failure of industrialized nations to fulfill a 2009 pledge to devote $100 billion annually to developing countries is a major impediment to a successful UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, which starts next month.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

IPO market holds firm amid stock market tumult

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The IPO market is doing its best Alfred E. Neuman impression so far this week, refusing to entertain everyone else's worries.

The big picture: Both the Dow and S&P 500 fell nearly 2% yesterday, as investors tried to measure the fallout of Chinese construction giant Evergrande defaulting on its $300 billion in liabilities.