British minister's career in jeopardy over Netanyahu meeting

UK Minister Priti Patel career in jeopardy over series of unauthorized meetings with senior Israeli officials, including PM Netanyahu.

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David Rosenberg,

Priti Patel
Priti Patel
REUTERS

A member of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government may be forced out over a series of unauthorized meetings with Israeli officials during a visit to the Jewish state earlier this year.

On Monday, Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel met with May over the scandal which had erupted following revelations that Patel had met with Israeli premier Binyamin Netanyahu, former Finance Minister Yair Lapid, and other senior Israeli officials during her vacation in Israel this summer.

Patel, a member of the Conservative party’s “Thatcherite” wing, issued a formal apology for the meetings, noting that the trip to Israel was a personal visit paid for out of her own money, while acknowledging that the meetings could be misconstrued. According to Britain’s ministerial code, government members must clear all meetings with foreign leaders by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

“This summer I travelled to Israel, on a family holiday paid for myself,” said Patel.

“In hindsight, I can see how my enthusiasm to engage in this way could be misread, and how meetings were set up and reported in a way which did not accord with the usual procedures. I am sorry for this and I apologize for it,” she added.

Patel’s apology appeared to mark the end of the scandal, but on Tuesday night there were new revelations of additional meetings, including one with Israeli Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan.

Following the revelation, Prime Minister May ordered Patel to cut short a trip to Africa to fly home and address Patel’s future role in the government.

"I don't understand what more she needs to do to be sacked," one government minister told the Daily Telegraph.

According to Patel, her meetings with Israeli officials included talks regarding the possibility of using British aid to support medical assistance operations for Syrian refugees on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights.

Last week, another minister in May’s government, Michael Fallon, resigned amid sexual misconduct allegations.

Opposition MPs, including Labour’s Jon Trickett slammed Patel over the meetings, and demanded May justify Patel’s continued participation in the government.

"[May] should act now to launch an investigation of these serious breaches of the ministerial code or explain why even given this she believes that Priti Patel can stay in her post,” said Trickett.








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