The beleaguered UK International Development Secretary Priti Patel appeared to be on the brink of departure from the cabinet this morning following revelations of more undisclosed meetings with senior Israeli officials.
On 7 September, Patel met with Gilad Erdan in London, Israel’s strategic affairs minister whose purview includes fighting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Later that month, she also met with Yuval Rotem in New York, an official from the Israeli foreign ministry.
According to reports, these meetings were held “without following protocol and notifying fellow ministers or officials”.
The latest revelations come after Patel was forced to apologise for holding 12 undisclosed meetings in Israel without government officials present while on a family holiday in August.
In a further development yesterday, it emerged that the development secretary had failed to inform Prime Minister Theresa May of departmental discussions over plans to send aid money to the Israeli army, apparently to support “humanitarian operations” in the Occupied Golan Heights.
May learned of the proposal from media reports.
Patel had already been rebuked by No 10 after giving the false impression in an interview with the Guardian that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and the Foreign Office knew about the meetings she had held over the summer in Israel.
Meanwhile, the Times has reported that Patel has been accused of breaching the ministerial code by letting a leading figure in a corporate lobbying group, Lord Polak, sit in on her secret meetings with members of the Israeli government.
Polak, honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel, accompanied Patel in 13 out of a total of 14 meetings with Israeli officials over August and September.
The Tory peer is also chair of the advisory board of TWC Associates, a strategic consultancy that boasts about its understanding of how “public policy is shaped” and how “our clients can best be plugged into the political process”.
The website of TWC Associates, which features Lord Polak at the top of a list of workers, lists several Israeli and British clients, including Elbit Systems, an Israeli defence company.
“Lord Polak should probably be expelled from the party for suborning a cabinet minister,” a senior Tory MP told the paper.
The Times also reported that Patel held an undocumented meeting at the home of Hilda Worth, a Tory donor and deputy chair of Conservative Friends of Israel, during her trip to Israel.
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