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United Kingdom minister apologizes for unauthorized meetings with Israeli officials

08 November 2017

Opposition MPs called for her to resign if she breached the ministerial code of conduct, but a spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that she had accepted Patel's apology and considered the matter closed.

British secretary of state for global development Priti Patel has apologised for holding several secret meetings with Israeli officials during a family holiday in August, in which she discussed a number of issues, including India.

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.

She falsely suggested that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had authorised her meetings.

The only assurance the Development Secretary was able to give No10 was that she hadn't "organised meetings with foreign Governments outside of the normal channels while on holiday".

"No I think exactly what has happened is she's had these meetings, I assume these were not meetings that were originally scheduled, and that having had these meetings she's then informed Boris Johnson and the Foreign Office of what took place in those meetings". [Patel] would like to take this opportunity to clarify that this was not the case.

When asked whether the PM had been made aware of anything else that was discussed that could constitute a change of policy, Number 10 replied: "What I am clear on is she set out the people she met and from looking at the list of people it is quite clear the different areas they cover".

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Yesterday, Patel was forced to make a U-turn, while coming clean about her secret trip to Israel.

Patel met Yair Lapid, the leader of one of Israel's main political parties, and made visits to several organisations where official departmental business was reportedly discussed, the BBC said. I am sorry for this and I apologise for it.

She said they had also been attended by Stuart Polak, the honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel and an influential pro-Israel lobbyist. The Foreign Office, it said, was "clear that United Kingdom interests were not damaged or affected by the meetings on this visit".

They also discussed the Israeli domestic political scene, India, Netanyahu's then-forthcoming visit to London to mark the centenary last week of the Balfour declaration, and "prospects for closer collaboration between Israel and the United Kingdom on development and humanitarian issues".

Priti Patel discussed giving United Kingdom aid money to humanitarian projects in a disputed region of Israel, Number 10 has admitted.

The Secretary of State said she had seen for herself the work of Jewish charities in Israel, and said she was "struck by the achievements of the state of Israel".

On Monday, Patel had apologised for failing to disclose meetings with senior Israeli officials during a private holiday.

United Kingdom minister apologizes for unauthorized meetings with Israeli officials