Britain's aid minister apologises over undisclosed Israel meetings

Oscar Cross
November 8, 2017

Labour's spokeswoman for global development, Kate Osamor, said that Ms. Patel should resign or face an investigation by the Cabinet Office for breach of the ministerial code. Patel's "startling admissions" raise doubts about whether she can continue in her role - with Labour also demanding that she resign, the Daily Mail says.

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.

On Friday, after news of some of the meetings emerged, Patel launched an attack on the Foreign Office and appeared to suggest that Johnson was aware she was going to Israel.

In a clarification, she said that "this was not the case" and that he "did become aware of the visit, but not in advance of it".

"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".

Kate Osamor, the shadow global 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". While away, I had the opportunity to meet a number of people and organizations.

She was accompanied by Lord Polak, honorary president of Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), an influential lobbying organisation, during the visit in August. The Foreign Office, it said, was "clear that United Kingdom interests were not damaged or affected by the meetings on this visit".


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

Ms Patel apologised for arranging and reporting the meetings "in a way which did not accord with the usual procedures".

Patel said she met with senior Israeli figures, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Foreign Ministry' Director General Yuval Rotem and opposition leader Yair Lapid. "I am sorry for this and I apologize for it".

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.

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

"This is another out-of-control minister in [British Prime Minister] Theresa May's weak government, but this time with implications for Britain's standing in the world as an honest broker and model for fairness in distributing aid".

"The prime minister met the secretary of state this morning to remind her of the obligations which exist under the ministerial code". "She's toast." Patel held meetings with Israeli ministers, charities and non-governmental organizations during her trip to Israel.

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