News Worms
News Worms


UK's Priti Patel sorry for secret meetings with Israeli officials

UK's Priti Patel sorry for secret meetings with Israeli officials

United Kingdom ministers are required to notify the Foreign Office when conducting official business overseas, but Patel admitted that she failed to do so. Patel also indicated on Friday that all meetings she held during her holiday have subsequently been made public.

The global development secretary, Priti Patel, held undisclosed meetings in Israel without telling the Foreign Office while accompanied by an influential pro-Israeli Conservative lobbyist, it has been reported.

Ms Patel is now facing calls to resign following the revelations, which also revealed that she was accompanied by Lord Polak, the honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel lobbying group, but no British officials were present at the sessions.

On Tuesday No.10 confirmed Patel had suggested the United Kingdom send aid money to the Israeli army in the Golan Heights.

"It is hard to escape the conclusion that had she been a more expendable minister - Mark Garnier, for instance - or if the prime minister was in a position of strength, Patel would have faced a Cabinet Office inquiry at best, and her P45 at worst".

A senior British minister on Monday admitted that she held a previously undisclosed meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while on holiday in Israel in August. "The point is that the Foreign Office did know about this, Boris knew about [the trip]". Today's statement acknowledges that the quote "may have given the impression that [Patel] had informed the Foreign Secretary about the visit in advance".

Kate Osamor, the shadow worldwide development secretary, told the Commons on Tuesday that it was "hard to think of a more black and white case of breaking the ministerial code of conduct".

Burt said if he had met with Israeli officials "I would have told the ambassador of course". The situation is made worse by the fact that rather than informing Downing Street of her trip, both Patel and Johnson kept it entirely secret until it was unearthed by the media last week.

"She saw the Israeli prime minister with a donor lobbyist, and failed to declare or admit to the meetings".

The meetings were a potential breach of ministerial protocol.

However Downing Street said that she will not face an official inquiry into her failure to disclose the meetings.

In a clarification, on Monday she said that "this was not the case" and that he "did become aware of the visit, but not in advance of it". While away, I had the opportunity to meet a number of people and organizations. In any ordinary circumstances a member of government embarking on a secret diplomatic mission and holding unauthorised talks with a foreign power would be an instant firing offence.

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