The UK’s international development secretary, Priti Patel, has resigned after it was revealed she held secret meetings with Israeli officials during what she said was a family holiday to Israel.
Patel returned to the UK on Wednesday, abandoning a trip to Uganda, after it was uncovered she went on a visit to Israel with a lobbyist in August, during which she held 12 undisclosed meetings, including one with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Patel admitted that after the 13-day visit, she had wanted to give British aid money to the Israeli army in the Golan Heights.
It also emerged that Patel met Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan in the British Parliament on September 7, and foreign ministry official Yuval Rotem in New York on September 18.
In her resignation letter, Patel apologised for failing to inform UK Prime Minister Theresa May or Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson about the meetings.
“My actions fell below the standard of transparency and openness I had promoted and advocated,” she said.
However, earlier this week, The Jewish Chronicle reported that two different sources confirmed to the newspaper that Patel had disclosed the meetings but was told not to declare them as they would embarrass the Foreign Office.
In addition, the newspaper reported that although Patel’s meeting with Netanyahu was not authorised in advance, the UK Government was made aware of it within hours.
Commenting after the firing, Liberal Democrat deputy leader Jo Swinson said in a statement: “This was an appalling error of judgement and is nothing short of a major failure by the British government.
“Number 10 must answer questions about their complicity in this scandal. Someone has been deceived, either the British people or the Prime Minister’s office. Whichever it is someone must be held to account.”