Fri, Nov 10, 2017 - Page 6 News List

British aid minister Patel quits over Israel meetings

AFP, LONDON

British Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel leaves No. 10 Downing Street in London on Wednesday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

British Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel on Wednesday quit over unauthorized meetings in Israel, becoming the latest Cabinet member felled by scandals that have rocked British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government.

“I offer a fulsome apology to you and to the government for what has happened, and offer my resignation,” Patel wrote to May.

May summoned Patel back from a trip to Africa to explain her talks with Israeli politicians and officials, in which she raised the possibility of Britain diverting aid to the Israeli army.

Patel had apologized on Monday for holding 12 separate meetings — including with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — during a family holiday to Israel in August without notifying the British Foreign Office or Downing Street in advance.

Patel wrote in her letter that there had been a “number of reports about my actions and I am sorry that these have served as a distraction.”

May accepted Patel’s resignation, replying in a letter that “the UK and Israel are close allies and it is right that we should work closely together. But that must be done formally.”

The departure comes a week after former British secretary of state for defence Michael Fallon quit following allegations of sexual harassment.

British First Secretary of State Damian Green, May’s deputy, is being investigated for allegedly groping a journalist in 2014 — an allegation he denies.

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