Priti Patel discussed giving United Kingdom aid to Israel, Downing Street admits

Priti Patel Britain's International Development Secretary

Great to meet with Priti Patel, UK Secretary of State for International Development, today.

Described by fellow MP Theresa Villiers as one of Israel's staunchest friends in Parliament, the Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel, confirmed her determination to extend collaboration between Britain and Israel in her address to the Bicom/Jewish News conference last week.

Appearing on the BBC's Daily Politics show, Duncan Smith initially stood firm when asked if Patel had lied when she erroneously claimed that Boris Johnson knew about her secret meetings with 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.

Asked about Patel's reported wish to use British aid money to help fund Israeli army activity, Burt said: "Because we regard Golan Heights as occupied territory and because we cannot support Israeli occupation of it, or give them any support, the answer to her query was "no".

Patel also said: "This summer I travelled to Israel, on a family holiday paid for by myself". [Patel] would like to take this opportunity to clarify that this was not the case.

"I can see how my enthusiasm to engage in this way could be mis-read, and how meetings were set up and reported", Patel said in a statement.

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The list showed that Patel also held meetings with Yuval Rotem, a senior official at the Israeli foreign ministry; Gilad Erdan, the minister for public security, information and strategic affairs; and Yair Lapid, a former finance minister in Netanyahu's coalition government and the leader of Israel's centrist Yesh Atid party.

On returning from her trip, Patel commissioned Dfid work on disability and humanitarian and development partnerships between Israel and the UK. "I regret it and apologize for it".

And he added: "The Secretary of State has been clear with Number 10 that on no other occasions while a minister has she organised meetings with foreign government ministers outside the normal channels while on holiday". The Telegraph also reported that Patel had suggested to Netanyahu that the United Kingdom should give aid to the Israeli army.

She apologised for failing to follow the usual procedures that ministers inform Britain's Foreign Office before conducting official business overseas and said she regretted suggesting Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had been aware of her trip.

Last week Patel insisted that she had only met with "people and organisations".

"The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was aware of my visit while it was under way".

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