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United Kingdom aid minister resigns over secret Israeli meetings

09 November 2017

British aid minister Priti Patel was forced from office on Wednesday over undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials after Prime Minister Theresa May sought to reassert her diminished authority as she negotiates Brexit.

Meanwhile, the Times has reported that Patel has been accused of breaching the ministerial code by letting a leading figure in a corporate lobbying group, Lord Polak, sit in on her secret meetings with members of the Israeli government.

May, in her response, said: "Now that further details have come to light, it is right that you have made a decision to resign and adhere to the high standards of transparency and openness that you have advocated".

After a hastily arranged meeting not long after Patel landed in London, May's office released her minister's letter of resignation, in which Patel said her conduct in Israel had fallen "below the high standards" required of her post.

Patel's apology statement included a list of people she met, along with a brief summary of the discussions.

The Jewish Chronicle article also states that the Prime Minister spoke with Ms Patel ahead of the UN General Assembly last month where they spoke of the meeting with Mr Netanyahu, and discussed details to give United Kingdom aid to humanitarian projects run by the Israel.

Ms Patel also held a second meeting with Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan in Parliament in September.

According to the Press Association, Downing Street was told about the NY breakfast with Rotem when Patel revealed the details of her trip to Israel, but only learnt on Tuesday about the meeting in Parliament with Erdan.

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In her statement, Patel explained, her quoted remarks may have given the impression that she had informed the foreign secretary about the visit beforehand. She adds: "I am sorry for this and I apologise for it".

On Tuesday, May's spokesman told reporters that on returning from her vacation, Patel had asked her officials whether British aid money could be given to support the Israeli army's relief work in the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Priti Patel is flying home from a trip to Africa.

Patel, who was born in London to a Ugandan Indian immigrant family, is - or was - a rising star on the right wing of the Conservative Party and a zealous advocate of leaving the E.U. Her political idol is Margaret Thatcher, who served as prime minister from 1979 to 1990 and died in 2013.

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

However, earlier this week, The Jewish Chronicle reported that two different sources confirmed to them that Patel had disclosed the meetings but was told not to declare them as they would embarrass the Foreign Office.

The statement said that Patel and Netanyahu had held an "introductory meeting" in which they had discussed Patel's family background as the daughter of Ugandan Indian migrants growing up in an area of the United Kingdom with a "thriving Jewish community".

United Kingdom aid minister resigns over secret Israeli meetings