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United Kingdom minister Priti Patel resigns over secret Israel trip

United Kingdom minister Priti Patel resigns over secret Israel trip

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.

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.

May, in her response, said: "Now that further details have come to light, it is right that you have made a decision to resign and adhere to the high standards of transparency and openness that you have advocated".

On Tuesday, it emerged that she had suggested giving British aid money to an Israeli army project and that she had held further unauthorized meetings.

In her letter to Theresa May, Ms Patel said: "While my actions were meant with the best of intentions, my actions also fell below the standards of transparency and openness that I have promoted and advocated".

"I offer a fulsome apology to you and to the Government for what has happened and offer my resignation", Patel said in a letter.

Patel said she "regrets the lack of precision in the wording she used in these statements and is taking the opportunity to clarify the position".

Later, Ms Patel insists the allegation that she kept the Foreign Office in the dark is false, telling a reporter: "Boris [Johnson] knew about the visit".

However, The Independent is told she still faces dismissal because she did not disclose to the Prime Minister the Commons meeting with Gilad Erdan, the security minister.

It is understood that Downing Street was told about the NY breakfast with Mr Rotem when Ms Patel revealed the details of her trip to Israel, but No 10 only learnt on Tuesday about the meeting with Mr Erdan. "The foreign secretary did become aware of the visit, but not in advance of it". She adds: "I am sorry for this and I apologise for it".

"Number 10 must answer questions about their complicity in this scandal".

Under British protocol, a cabinet minister would normally organize meetings through the foreign office and be accompanied by officials, and visits with Israelis would typically be balanced with meetings with Palestinians.

Patel's meetings in Israel were arranged by Tory peer Lord Polak, honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel.

Ms Patel is given a face-to-face reprimand by the Prime Minister and reminded about her "responsibilities under the ministerial code".

No 10 denies it instructed Ms Patel not to publicise the September meeting with Yuval Rotem, the diplomat, to avoid embarrassing the Foreign Office, but accepts it knew about it.

The statement said that Patel and Netanyahu had held an "introductory meeting" in which they had discussed Patel's family background as the daughter of Ugandan Indian migrants growing up in an area of the United Kingdom with a "thriving Jewish community".

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