Priti Patel held undisclosed meetings in Israel

Priti Patel held undisclosed meetings in Israel

Priti Patel held undisclosed meetings in Israel

Priti Patel, minister for global development, had issued a formal apology yesterday for holding undisclosed meetings during a holiday visit to Israel.

He said: "She also had meetings with a number of charities and I find it utterly unsurprising that the global aid secretary would want to talk to charities while she's on holiday in a particular area about whether or not we can use the British aid budget to diminish the humanitarian problems there".

The global development secretary was forced to apologise on Monday after she held 12 undisclosed meetings while on holiday in August.

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.

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. Clarifying her comments to the Guardian she said: "This quote may have given the impression that the Secretary of State had informed the Foreign Secretary about the visit in advance".

"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".

That she didn't report the meetings - which took place over two days - has sparked fears that Patel used her "holiday", in August, as a cover to surreptitiously discuss official United Kingdom government business with Israeli politicians and representatives of Israeli organisations. "I am sorry for this and I apologise for it", Patel said in her apology statement. She was accompanied by Lord Polak, the honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel lobbying group. I am publishing a list of who I met.‎ The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was aware of my visit while it was underway‎.

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. Patel contradicted her previous remarks about informing the Foreign Office. The Telegraph also reported that Patel had suggested to Netanyahu that the United Kingdom should give aid to the Israeli army.

"The prime minister met the secretary of state this morning to remind her of the obligations which exist under the ministerial code".

Downing Street said the premier had accepted her apology and considered the matter closed.

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