Britain's aid minister apologises over undisclosed Israel meetings

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Opposition MPs called for her to resign if she breached the ministerial code of conduct, but a spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that she had accepted Patel's apology and considered the matter closed.

The worldwide development secretary, Priti Patel, held undisclosed meetings in Israel without telling the Foreign Office while accompanied by an influential pro-Israeli Conservative lobbyist, it has been reported.

May was only made aware Patel had met Netanyahu last Friday - the day after the Israeli prime minister had held talks with the prime minister in Downing Street.

She was accompanied by Lord Polak, honorary president of Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), an influential lobbying organisation, during the visit in August.

But it emerged on Tuesday morning that Ms Patel discussed changing Government policy and handing taxpayers' money to humanitarian projects linked to the Israeli army in the highly disputed area of the Golan Heights held by Israel.

"This summer I travelled to Israel, on a family holiday paid for myself". While away, I had the opportunity to meet a number of people and organizations.

While Labour's Chris Bryant told Sky News: "She lied to the country when she suggested last week that she had told the Foreign Secretary before she went - and she hadn't".

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"In hindsight, I can see how my enthusiasm to engage in this way could be misread, and how meetings were set up and reported in a way which did not accord with the usual procedures". "I regret it and apologize for it". I am publishing a list of who I met.‎ The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was aware of my visit while it was underway‎.

Patel met with Netanyahu to discuss "the Israeli domestic political scene", she said, and to plan his United Kingdom visit, which took place last week.

"No I think exactly what has happened is she's had these meetings, I assume these were not meetings that were originally scheduled, and that having had these meetings she's then informed Boris Johnson and the Foreign Office of what took place in those meetings".

He said: "She also had meetings with a number of charities and I find it utterly unsurprising that the global aid secretary would want to talk to charities while she's on holiday in a particular area about whether or not we can use the British aid budget to diminish the humanitarian problems there".

On Tuesday No.10 confirmed Patel had suggested the United Kingdom send aid money to the Israeli army in the Golan Heights.

He alleged Ms Patel broke four grounds of the code - openness, collective responsibility, honesty and performing only those duties allocated to them by the PM.

She also held several meetings with representatives of charities and NGOs involved in aid and humanitarian work.

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