UK Cabinet Minister Resigns Over Secret Talks With Israelis

Nov 09, 2017, 00:38
UK Cabinet Minister Resigns Over Secret Talks With Israelis

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". The existence of such a meeting or meetings would call into question the official account of Ms Patel's behaviour, and the objective of her visit, ' he said.

The latest revelations come after Patel was forced to apologise for holding 12 undisclosed meetings in Israel without government officials present while on a family holiday in August.

"While my actions were meant with the best of intentions, my actions also fell below the standards of transparency and openness that I have promoted and advocated".

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Ms Patel said: "I offer a fulsome apology to you and to the Government for what has happened and offer my resignation".

Patel said she "regrets the lack of precision in the wording she used in these statements and is taking the opportunity to clarify the position".

Asked whether Patel should be dismissed, the new defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, said: "The prime minister makes her own decision on actually who is serving in her cabinet, and they're only the prime minister's decisions".

And her future appeared to be decided after reports this morning showed she held two more meetings since her trip to Israel in August.

Later that month, she also met with Yuval Rotem in NY, an official from the Israeli foreign ministry.

On 18 September, while in New York, Patel met Yuval Rotem, an official from the Israeli foreign ministry.

The JC claimed to have been told by two separate sources that Number 10 instructed Ms Patel not to include these two meetings in her original release.

She apologised for failing to follow the usual procedures that ministers inform Britain's Foreign Office before conducting official business overseas and said she regretted suggesting Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had been aware of her trip.

The statement added that the Foreign Office was aware of the visit while it was underway, but was not informed about it in advance.

Patel was also reported to have visited the Golan Heights, territory disputed between Israel and Syria, which British officials tend to avoid.

She was accompanied at all the meetings bar one in Israel by honorary president of the Conservative Friends for Israel lobbying group Lord Polak.

Patel is the second cabinet minister to quit May's government a week after Michael Fallon resigned as defence secretary over allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior on November 1.

However the Prime Minister's official spokesman was unable to say whether she had explained when she met Mrs May that the scheme would have involved supplying funding to the Israeli army.

It comes after a story in the The Jewish Chronicle (JC), which reports that No10 told her not to disclose some of the meetings as it would "embarrass the Foreign and Commonwealth Office".

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