Priti Patel 'failed to disclose meetings in Israel'

The meetings reportedly took place during Priti Patel's holiday in August

The meetings reportedly took place during Priti Patel's holiday in August

The Cabinet minister is under fire for keeping the Foreign Office in the dark over political meetings where she was accompanied by an influential pro-Israeli Conservative lobbyist.

The BBC, citing unnamed sources, reported that Patel had been accompanied by a pro-Israel Conservative lobbyist.

The visit to Israel is considered unorthodox because ministers are usually supposed to make the Foreign Office aware when they are conducting official business overseas.

Also present at the meetings was Lord Polak, the honorary president of Conservative Friends of Israel, the lobbying organisation that regularly pays for MPs and peers to visit Israel.

According to a BBC report, Patel met with one of Israel's main political parties and visited numerous organizations where she discussed her work without telling officials in the Foreign Office.

United Kingdom government sources have attempted to play down the meetings, insisting Ms. Patel had done nothing wrong as it was a private holiday paid for by the minister.

She met Yair Lapid, the leader of the Yesh Atid party and former government finance minister.

No 10 has brushed off allegations that Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, broke ministerial rules on a visit to Israel, saying: "There is no investigation".

It is unclear exactly what was discussed with Mr Lapid. "A true friend of Israel". "I just joined her for a couple of days, some drinks, some dinner, that kind of thing".

A former minister expressed concern at what Ms Patel's visit would suggest to other countries.

"We look forward to a strong, fruitful partnership with the DFID to enhance the quality of life of people with disabilities worldwide". The Israeli embassy in London declined to respond to questions.

The fear among some Tory MPs is that Ms Patel also used the trip to discuss reducing her department's support for Palestinian groups.

Britain presently sends about £68 million (US$88.9 million) to support the Palestinian territories, most of it from the DFID's budget.

The majority of those funds come from the Department for International Development with some of the money being given directly to the Palestinian Authority.

Ms. Patel has always been a critic of this funding.

Patel has been a critic of DFID's funding policies, and tightened the guidelines on Palestinian spending previous year. "She has been pushing to get her hands on the PA aid budget and we have been pushing back".

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