Priti Patel Told Undisclosed Meetings In Israel A 'Resigning Matter'
00:40, Nov 8, 2017
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But it emerged on Tuesday morning that Ms Patel discussed changing Government policy and handing taxpayers' money to humanitarian projects linked to the Israeli army in the highly disputed area of the Golan Heights held by Israel.
She was accompanied by Lord Polak, honorary president of Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), an influential lobbying organisation, during the visit in August.
Ms. Patel said she met with senior Israeli figures, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Yuval Rotem and opposition leader Yair Lapid.
Ministers, by convention, should tell the Foreign Office when they are conducting official business overseas.
The revelations are highly embarrassing for Mrs May who was clueless about the meetings held between Ms Patel and Mr Netanyahu when the Israeli PM visted Downing Street last week.
"Patel didn't think it was worth telling Theresa May that she had met with a foreign leader on Friday morning - more than two months after she had returned to the United Kingdom", stated PoliticsHome editor Kevin Schofield. The Foreign Office, it said, was "clear that United Kingdom interests were not damaged or affected by the meetings on this visit". The secretary of state would like to take this opportunity to clarify that this was not the case.
"In hindsight, I can see how my enthusiasm to engage in this way could be misread, and how meetings were set up and reported in a way which did not accord with the usual procedures", she said. "I am sorry for this and I apologise for it", Patel said in her apology statement.
While Labour's Chris Bryant told Sky News: "She lied to the country when she suggested last week that she had told the Foreign Secretary before she went - and she hadn't".
Britain's commitment to Israel's security remained "unwavering", Ms Patel said, but added that there was "more than just a security challenge" in the Middle East, but also a development challenge, noting the volatile population shifts in the region and the vast numbers of refugees, the greatest such numbers since the end of the Second World War.
DOWNING Street demanded Priti Patel come clean about any more secret meetings with foreign politicians, as her Cabinet career hung by a thread.
On Tuesday No.10 confirmed Patel had suggested the United Kingdom send aid money to the Israeli army in the Golan Heights.
Downing Street said the premier had accepted her apology and considered the matter closed.
Patel has faced criticism and calls for her to resign or be sacked over the meetings.
The Netanyahu meeting included "prospects for closer collaboration between Israel and the United Kingdom on development and humanitarian issues", Israel-based newspaper Haaretz reports, noting that no minutes were kept.
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