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Afghan Taliban faction reportedly interested in growing ties with Israel

Afghan official: Abraham Accords show that ties with Israel serve the national interests of Arab nations

Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban government spokesman and deputy minister of Information and Culture, meets the press in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug 24, 2022. (Photo: EYEPRESS via Reuters)

A faction of around 200 people in the Taliban might be interested in developing ties with Israel, according to a report from Israel’s i24NEWS.

A Taliban official – a Kabul resident who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons – is allegedly close to decision-makers within the Taliban administration and reported that the faction interested in ties with Israel includes senior and top Taliban officials. 

“In the preliminary stages, they are interested in establishing confidential relations, with the intention to see these negotiations bear fruit in years or even a decade,” the official told i24NEWS. “However, the final goal for this effort from within the Taliban is to have a bilateral agreement between Israel and Afghanistan.”

The official stressed that the policy is by no means an official position of the Taliban government but, rather, “an opinion held by individuals within the movement.” 

According to the source, the rationale behind the idea is to empower the Taliban by fostering ties with “superpowers” in the region.

“They want to empower and sustain their regime. Therefore, they need to form strong relations with superpowers in the region, and they see Israel as a strong influencer,” the official said. 

“Israel is powerful and influential within the Middle East and the wider world,” he noted, and said that he, himself, maintains contact with an Israeli activist, though he did not specify what kind.

The official told i24NEWS that the Abraham Accords, which normalized diplomatic relations between Israel and Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and, possibly, Sudan, are an inspiration to the Taliban.

“Some Muslim countries made ties with Israel because it is in their national interest, and we also have our own national interest,” he said.

Nevertheless, in Afghanistan, there has not been any official acknowledgement of the idea of building diplomatic relations with Israel. A month before the i24NEWS interview, Al Jazeera asked the spokesperson for the Political Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan if the Taliban would have a problem with establishing relations with Israel.

“What problem do we have with Israel? Next thing someone will ask whether we are willing to have a dialogue with Mars,” the spokesperson, Muhammad Naeem, reportedly responded.

In September 2021, Taliban spokesman for International Media Suhail Shaheen told Russian media outlet Sputnik International that the radical Islamists are willing to establish relations with all countries in the world, including the United States, except one: the Jewish state of Israel. 

“Of course, we won’t have any relation with Israel. We want to have relations with other countries, Israel is not among these countries,” Shaheen said. 

The Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, following the chaotic withdrawal of the U.S. military from the country, and have since installed “draconian policies,” according to Amnesty International.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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