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losangelesnewstoday.com November 18, 2017


Priti Patel held undisclosed meetings in Israel

08 November 2017, 12:42 | Nina Hammond

UK minister Priti Patel held undisclosed meeting with Israel's Netanyahu

Priti Patel: Israel and Britain can extend and improve their partnership

Britain's Minister for International Development, Bertie Patel, apologized on Monday for not disclosing meetings with senior Israeli officials during a private holiday.

Ms Patel also faced fresh questions over how much she has told the PM this week about the meetings.

Patel said the meetings were arranged by Lord Stuart Polak, of the Conservative Friends of Israel, who accompanied her in most of the meetings.

Patil said she had met with prominent Israeli figures, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Yuval Rotem, and opposition leader Yair Lapid.

Patel blamed her "enthusiasm to engage" for her failure to tell the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson about her high-level encounters, the Daily Mail adds.

While Patel's secret meeting with the Israeli's is seen by many as a clear breach of the ministerial code of conduct, some have pointed to the paralysis within May's government in punishing this kind of rogue behaviour, especially when it comes to UK's relations with Israel.

May was only made aware Patel had met Netanyahu last Friday - the day after the Israeli prime minister had held talks with the prime minister in Downing Street. The Secretary of State would like to take the opportunity to correct this impression: "she is clear that other meetings also took place on her visit, in addition to those which had been publicly reported at the time of her making these statements", Patel confessed.

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However Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, said that it was "not in any way forbidden" to speak to the Prime Minister of another country without telling the Foreign Secretary first.

"The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was aware of my visit while it was under way".

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". I am sorry for this and I apologise for it. The BBC says that following the trip, Patel suggested that some of Britain's aid budget go to the Israeli army.

The PM's official spokesman said of Ms Patel: "Nobody is pretending she handled this situation well, least of all the Secretary of State".

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".

Downing Street officials are already furious with Ms Patel, who has also admitted misleading journalists about the Israel trip. May yesterday summoned Patel to No 10 to "remind her of the obligations which exist under the ministerial code".



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