British minister embarrasses Theresa May government over Israel

November 07, 2017
Britain's Secretary of State for International Development Prity Patel Britain's Secretary of State for International Development Prity Patel

The government of British Prime Minister Teresa Mai is moving from one blow to another. After a scandal in the parliament, Defense Minister Michael Fallon was forced to resign. The government faces diplomatic embarrassment because Britain's Secretary of State for International Development Prity Patel.

Prity Patel had held meetings with senior Israeli officials during a special holiday, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Yuval Rotem, and opposition leader Yair Lapid, without referring to her government.

Such meetings could be a violation of Britain's ministerial protocol, according to Sky News.

Patel apologized for failing to comply with normal procedures, which oblige ministers to inform the British Foreign Office before doing official business abroad, and said she regretted her statement that Secretary of State Boris Johnson was aware of the visit in advance.

"I can understand how my enthusiasm can be misinterpreted in that way, and how the meetings were arranged and reported," Batel said in a statement. "I regret and apologize for that."

Kate Ozmour, spokeswoman for the international development of the opposition Labor Party, said that Patil must resign or undergo an investigation; for violating the protocol.

A government spokesman said Mai accepted Patil's apology and met with her on Monday to remind her of her obligations under the rules of ministerial work.

After reports first appeared on the details of Patil's meetings in Israel last week, the British minister told The Guardian that Johnson "was aware of the trip."

"It was not so," Patel said. "Johnson became aware of the visit, but not before it was done," she said, adding that she regretted her lack of precision in the wording.

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