Priti Patel: Israel and Britain can extend and improve their partnership
- Author: Marlene Weaver Nov 08, 2017,
Nov 08, 2017, 0:41
Priti Patel, the global development secretary, also said that the meeting and others with senior Israeli officials had been conducted without the knowledge of the British Foreign Office and apologised for failing to follow "usual procedures".
Patel's apology statement included a list of people she met, along with a brief summary of the discussions.
Priti Patel met with Netanyahu, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and other officials while on a family vacation in Israel in August.
"She is the cabinet minister in charge of Britain's aid budget but sees fit to go rogue in a foreign country with the assistance of lobbyists and that country's officials, but without the knowledge of the foreign office".
The meetings were a potential breach of ministerial protocol.
The minister, who has been under fire for not disclosing the trip earlier this summer, said the visit was a "family holiday, paid for myself" and the meetings - with a range of politicians, businesses, tech startups and NGOs - were arranged while away.
Alistair Burt, a Foreign Office minister, admitted she did not meet "anyone representing Palestinian interests" - despite 12 meetings with Israeli groups.
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".
"The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was aware of my visit while it was under way". I am sorry for this and I apologise for it.
Priti Patel discussed giving United Kingdom aid money to humanitarian projects in a disputed region of Israel, Number 10 has admitted.
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".
Equally revealing is the revelation that at yesterday's Downing Street lobby briefing, the prime minister's spokesman confirmed that Prime Minister Theresa May did not know about any of the meetings until last Friday, some three months after they took place and one day after the prime minister held her own meeting with Netanyahu. "She's toast." Patel held meetings with Israeli ministers, charities and non-governmental organizations during her trip to Israel.
Mr Trickett said the PM should either call in her independent adviser on ministerial standards or "state publicly and explain your full reasons for why Priti Patel retains your confidence despite clear breaches of the ministerial code".