For a change of pace, the latest Israel-related scandal to hit British politics involves the Conservatives: Priti Patel, a Conservative MP and Secretary of State for International Development, is in hot water for having had unscheduled meetings with Israeli politicians while she was on holiday in Israel. which, if any country other than Israel had been involved, is doubtful it would have escalated in the way it did.
Cabinet minister Priti Patel has apologised for failing to give neither Theresa May or Boris Johnson the heads-up about meeting Israel’s prime minister.
The International Development Secretary spent 12 days in the country on a family holiday in August, but also spent her time meeting top ministers, officials, businesses and charities.
When conducting official Government work overseas, ministers are supposed to tell the Foreign Office.
But Ms Patel has now admitted she gave no advance notice of her trip.
Downing Street has also revealed the Prime Minister was in the dark over Ms Patel’s meeting with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu for more than two months, until last Friday.
Ms Patel’s actions have prompted calls for an investigation and even her resignation, with the senior Tory accused of breaching ministerial rules and misleading the British public.
On her return from the trip, Ms Patel ordered new work in her department on UK-Israeli partnerships.
On Monday, Ms Patel was also forced to clarify remarks she previously gave to the Guardian newspaper about the trip.
Her department admitted these may have formed the impression she had given Mr Johnson prior notice of her visit, and that those publically reported meetings were the only ones to have taken place.
Ms Patel also offered an apology and published a full list of her meetings, which were arranged by Tory peer Lord Polak, the honorary president of Conservative Friends of Israel.
She said: “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 organisations. I am publishing a list of who I met.
“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was aware of my visit while it was under way.
“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 am sorry for this and I apologise for it.”
What seems to have outraged Parliament and the media the most was the fact that Ms. Patel visited the Golan Heights – considered “occupied territory” (gasp!), despite the fact that the visit was in order to organize humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees via the IDF.
The criticism is set to increase Wednesday as Haaretz found that Patel visited an Israeli military field hospital set up by in the Golan Heights to treat Syrian refugees and victims of the civil war.
Like the rest of the international community, the British government does not recognize Israel’s control of the Golan Heights, captured for Syria in the Six-Day War in 1967.
The diplomatic protocol is that British ministers and senior officials do not travel in the Golan, as well as the West Bank and East Jerusalem, under the auspices of the Israeli government. Patel’s visit to the Israel Defense Forces field hospital in the Golan Heights as a guest of the Israeli government during her visit is a clear breach of protocol. Upon her return to London, Patel suggested that Britain help fund the field hospital’s operations.
This reaction shows that those who profess to love the Palestinians so much in fact do not care one hoot. They are quite willing to let the Palestinians or other Arabs suffer so long as Israel is harmed. In this case they would like to prevent funds from reaching Syrian refugees, one of the most needy and endangered groups in the world, simply because the funds would be channelled via the IDF, and would the aid would go through the Golan. If any of these smug virtue-signallers would look at a map it would become clear to their ignorant eyes that there is no way to funnel aid to Syria except through the Golan Heights! In fact they should be happy that Israel is “occupying’ the area (in fact it was annexed by Israel in the 1980s), otherwise Assad and Iran would be sitting on the Kinneret and threatening Israel’s major population centers.
This cutting off someone else’s nose to spite Israel’s face is a revolting attitude and one which is applied to Israel alone.
Yes, Ms. Patel broke protocol, and then tried to cover it up – always a bad idea. The cover-up is always worse than the offence itself. But the way Parliament, let alone the media, have gone on about these meetings, you would have thought she had met with Nazis at the very least. We never heard a fraction of such protests when Corbyn met with terrorists at Parliament!
Kudos to her deputy Alastair Burt for stoutly defending her:
As Sussex Friends of Israel pointedly remarked:
WATCH!-A very combative F.O minister Alistair Burt explains during questions on Priti Patels recent trip to Israel why her meetings and who she met with were so important. If your problem is with these meetings and not the fact that Ms Patel didn’t inform the F.O I fear the problem you have is an ‘Israel problem’ and nothing to do with official procedure!!
Sadly it now looks like Priti Patel is facing the sack. What a waste of a career, and all because she tried to help Syrian refugees. The hypocrisy and double standards scream to the heavens.