Priti Patel quits over Israel meetings row

UK minister apologizes for unauthorized meetings with Israeli officials

British aid minister Priti Patel was forced to cut short a foreign trip yesterday to answer questions over undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials.

But Mr Burt indicated Ms Patel would not face further action over her trip as the prime minister "regards the matter as closed".

"I then discovered this morning that Number 10 had been told by Ms Patel about her meeting with Israeli foreign office official Yuval Rotem in NY and had specifically asked her not to include it".

Ms May reportedly responded in another letter to say she believed that Ms Patel has made the "right" decision.

Ms Patel's early return to the United Kingdom follows the disclosure that she met Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan in Parliament on September 7, and foreign ministry official Yuval Rotem in NY on September 18.

"I offer a fulsome apology to you and to the Government for what has happened and offer my resignation", she added.

Under intense media scrutiny - including thousands of people following the progress of her plane on a flight tracking website - Ms Patel arrived back in the United Kingdom on a Kenya Airways flight to Heathrow.

Theresa May's spokespeople deny the allegations and insist that the first the Prime Minister knew about the meetings was last Friday.

She apologized, but it has since emerged that she also met in September with Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan and a foreign ministry official.

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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 BBC also reports that Ms Patel was accompanied by Lord Polak, president of Conservative Friends of Israel, (CFI), which has close links with wealthy Tory donors. "I am sorry for this and I apologise for it".

He said Foreign Office officials in Israel had only become aware of her visit on August 24, after she was already in the country.

In a further development, the Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported that during her stay in the country she visited an Israeli military field hospital in the occupied Golan Heights.

And now she has had to deal with a cabinet minister who appears to have held talks with more than a dozen Israeli officials in off-the-books meetings while allegedly on vacation.

"What is 99% certain is that she knew on the day of the meeting".

The Cabinet member is under mounting pressure for arranging a dozen meetings with Israeli ministers, including the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, without alerting the Government in advance.

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

The Sun newspaper reported yesterday that Patel had also failed to disclose that she had met the director general of Israel's Foreign Ministry, Yuval Rotem, in NY and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan in London.

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