UK MP apologises for lying about undisclosed meetings in Israel

Priti Patel: Israel and Britain can extend and improve their partnership

Britain's global development secretary apologized Monday for holding meetings with top Israeli officials, among them Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, without informing the Foreign Office beforehand.

"And every code of ministerial conduct that I have ever seen as a minister of some nine years standing in previous governments, I would have thought this was a resigning matter", she said.

She said they had also been attended by Stuart Polak, the honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel and an influential pro-Israel lobbyist.

Patel met Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, head of Israel's foreign ministry Yuval Rotem, the minister for public security, information and strategic affairs Gilad Erdan and the leader of opposition party Yesh Atid Yair Lapid, among others.

She was also reprimanded by Downing Street for suggesting the Foreign Office was aware of the meetings before they took place even though it was not.

Patel blamed her "enthusiasm to engage" for her failure to tell the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson about her high-level encounters, the Daily Mail adds.

The Prime Minister only learned of the meetings on Friday - a day after she held a meeting with Mr Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, in Downing Street to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.

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

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The department has not yet responded to questions from Sky News, but Downing Street previously said Ms Patel was on a private holiday "paid for by herself".

In a clarification, on Monday she said that "this was not the case" and that he "did become aware of the visit, but not in advance of it".

It was confirmed that Ms Patel did not reveal her meetings only afterwards.

"I am sorry for this and I apologise for it", Ms. Patel said in a statement.

Kate Osamor, the shadow global 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".

It emerged that Ms Patel tasked DFID officials to look at sending aid cash to the Israeli Army after holding talks with PM Benjamin Netanyahu during a holiday in the country.

They also discussed the Israeli domestic political scene, India, Netanyahu's then-forthcoming visit to London to mark the centenary last week of the Balfour declaration, and "prospects for closer collaboration between Israel and the United Kingdom on development and humanitarian issues".

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

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