British aid minister Patel resigns in new test for PM May

British aid minister Patel resigns in new test for PM May

Kerry Wise
November 9, 2017

The International Development Secretary is now on a plane back to the United Kingdom from Africa with the widespread expectation that she faces the sack over unauthorised meetings with the Israeli Prime Minister and other senior Israeli figures.

"I had two separate sources get in touch with me saying in a meeting that the Prime Minister held in September, Priti Patel discussed with Mrs May the idea of sharing aid with Israel and that she had met with Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss this".

"While my actions were meant with the best of intentions, my actions also fell below the standards of transparency and openness that I have promoted and advocated", Patel wrote in the letter to May.

Later, it is revealed she held two further meetings after her "holiday" - in September - with Israel's security minister and the chief diplomat, the former on the House of Commons terrace.

Patel's apology statement included a list of people she met, along with a brief summary of the discussions.

Britain's Press Association news agency and other media reported that Priti Patel was on a flight to London Wednesday after Prime Minister Theresa May ordered her to return.

Priti Patel has been unable to face questions from MPs about "secret" meetings she held in Israel because she is away on government business.

According to the Press Association, Downing Street was told about the NY breakfast with Rotem when Patel revealed the details of her trip to Israel, but only learnt on Tuesday about the meeting in Parliament with Erdan.

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The BBC also reports that Ms Patel was accompanied by Lord Polak, president of Conservative Friends of Israel, (CFI), which has close links with wealthy Tory donors. She adds: "I am sorry for this and I apologise for it".

Number 10 confirmed that Patel had discussed the possibility of United Kingdom aid being used to support medical assistance for refugees from the Syrian civil war arriving in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Patel is the second cabinet minister to quit May's government a week after Michael Fallon resigned as defence secretary over allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior on November 1.

He said Foreign Office officials in Israel had only become aware of her visit on August 24, after she was already in the country.

The imminent sacking of cabinet minister Priti Patel took another turn this morning when a journalist revealed Theresa May's office did know about her meetings in Israel.

During her trip in August, the Israeli government invited Patel to visit the Golan Heights, which was captured from neighboring Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and has been settled by Israelis.

In addition, the newspaper reported that although Patel's meeting with Netanyahu was not authorised in advance, the UK Government was made aware of it within hours.

Ms Patel is given a face-to-face reprimand by the Prime Minister and reminded about her "responsibilities under the ministerial code".