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UK's Priti Patel sorry for secret meetings with Israeli officials

UK's Priti Patel sorry for secret meetings with Israeli officials

Number 10 was also unable to confirm whether there were any other policy discussions held between Ms Patel and the Israeli Government during her visit.

Priti Patel, the worldwide 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 secretary of state would like to take this opportunity to clarify that this was not the case.

On Tuesday No.10 confirmed Patel had suggested the United Kingdom send aid money to the Israeli army in the Golan Heights.

While Labour's Chris Bryant told Sky News: "She lied to the country when she suggested last week that she had told the Foreign Secretary before she went - and she hadn't".

The meetings amounted to a breach of the ministerial code, since the Foreign Office was not informed of them in advance.

The revelations are highly embarrassing for Mrs May who was clueless about the meetings held between Ms Patel and Mr Netanyahu when the Israeli PM visted Downing Street last week.

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

However Downing Street said that she will not face an official inquiry into her failure to disclose the meetings.

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Ms Patel, MP for Witham in Essex, said she was proud of the role which Britain had played in "helping to make a homeland for the Jewish people" and said that the Balfour centenary should be celebrated with pride.

Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesperson highlighted that the United Kingdom provides no financial support to Israeli forces and that there would be no change in policy, reported The Guardian.

Labour's spokeswoman for global development Kate Osamor said that Patel should resign or face an investigation by the Cabinet Office for breach of the ministerial code.

On returning from her trip, Patel commissioned Dfid work on disability and humanitarian and development partnerships between Israel and the UK.

A spokesperson for May's office said on Monday: "The prime minister welcomes the secretary of state's clarification about her trip to Israel and has accepted her apology for her handling of the matter". "It is not about who else I met", she said, "I have friends out there".

"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".

Kate Osamor, the shadow worldwide development secretary, said: "Not only does it look like she might have breached the ministerial code, she has now been caught misleading the British public".


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