Prime Minister faces mounting pressure as it emerges Patel had more unauthorised meetings with Israelis

Priti Patel had two further unauthorized meetings with Israeli political figures, it has emerged.

The fresh revelation is likely to pile pressure on Theresa May to sack the International Development Secretary.

It follows Patel’s apology for the 12 other undisclosed meetings she held during a “family holiday” in Israel, including with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

 

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PM facing mounting pressure as more meetings between Patel and Israelis emerge.

 

It is understood Ms. Patel met Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan in Parliament on September 7, and foreign ministry official Yuval Rotem in New York on September 18, following the August meetings in Israel.

Downing Street was reportedly told about the New York breakfast with Mr. Rotem when Ms. Patel revealed the details of her trip to Israel but only learned on Tuesday about the meeting in Parliament with Mr. Erdan.

No British officials were present and like her meetings in Israel, she did not report them to the Foreign Office or Government in the usual way.

Ms. Patel, who is currently in Africa with International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, was accompanied at all the meetings bar one in Israel by honorary president of the Conservative Friends for Israel lobbying group Lord Polak.

Labour has already demanded an investigation by the Prime Minister’s standards adviser into Ms. Patel’s meetings with the Israeli government, claiming they involved four “serious breaches” of the ministerial code.

 

Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu faces pressure over security of Jerusalem mosque after violence.

 

Before the extra meetings were revealed, Downing Street insisted Mrs. May continued to have confidence in Ms. Patel after giving her a dressing down on Monday over her trip to Israel.

Number 10 confirmed that Ms. Patel had discussed the possibility of UK aid being used to support medical assistance for refugees from the Syrian civil war arriving in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

However, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman was unable to say whether she had explained when she met Mrs. May that the scheme would have involved supplying funding to the Israeli army.

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said there were “strong grounds” to believe that Ms. Patel had broken the ministerial code’s requirements for openness, collective responsibility, honesty and performing only those duties allocated to them by the PM.

On returning from her trip, Ms. Patel commissioned Department for International Development (DfID) work on disability, humanitarian and development partnerships between Israel and the UK.

Ms. Patel only made Mrs. May aware of the meetings on Friday, more than two months after they took place when reports began to emerge of talks she held with a politician and a disability charity.

The minister has apologized and admitted a “lack of precision” for suggesting last week that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson knew about the trip and that only two meetings had taken place.

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