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United Kingdom minister Priti Patel held undisclosed meeting with Israel's Netanyahu

United Kingdom minister Priti Patel held undisclosed meeting with Israel's Netanyahu

Alistair Burt, a Foreign Office minister, admitted she did not meet "anyone representing Palestinian interests" - despite 12 meetings with Israeli groups.

Ministers, by convention, should tell the Foreign Office when they are conducting official business overseas.

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.

Opposition parties had called for Patel, the senior-most Indian-origin member of May's Cabinet, to resign as minister in charge of the Department for International Development (DfID) and the country's aid budget if it emerges that she breached the ministerial code of conduct.

However Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, said that it was "not in any way forbidden" to speak to the Prime Minister of another country without telling the Foreign Secretary first. "The Foreign Secretary did become aware of the visit, but not in advance of it". [Patel] would like to take this opportunity to clarify that this was not the case.

Patel said the meetings were arranged by Lord Stuart Polak, of the Conservative Friends of Israel, who accompanied her in most of the meetings.

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. I am publishing a list of who I met.‎ The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was aware of my visit while it was underway‎. "I am sorry for this and I apologize for it".

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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.

Patel met with Netanyahu to discuss "the Israeli domestic political scene", she said, and to plan his United Kingdom visit, which took place last week.

"Patel has a history of showing favouritism to Israel and is suspected to cut or divert the essential aid that the United Kingdom sends to the Palestine Authority", Slaughter told MEE.

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

Equally revealing is the revelation that at yesterday's Downing Street lobby briefing, the prime minister's spokesman confirmed that Prime Minister Theresa May did not know about any of the meetings until last Friday, some three months after they took place and one day after the prime minister held her own meeting with Netanyahu.

The Secretary of State said she had seen for herself the work of Jewish charities in Israel, and said she was "struck by the achievements of the state of Israel".

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