by Benjamin Jenkins, London Economic/Days of Palestine
(Edited for the IMEMC by c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g)
The Jewish Chronicle just revealed that “Number 10” WAS aware of British Minister of Development Priti Patelâ€™s extra meeting with an Israeli minister â€“ but she was told to keep them quiet.
As Priti Patel aborts an official visit to Uganda to return to the UK in a growing crisis overÂ secret meetings with Israeli ministers and plans to divert foreign aid to Israeli Defence Force administered projects, this latest revelation raises serious questions about Theresa Mayâ€™s actions.
Theresa May refused to sack the International Development Secretary for breaches of Ministerial Code after it emerged that she had used what appeared to be a family holiday this summer for secret meetings with 12 Israeli politicians including premier Binyamin Netanyahu. â€“ Potential breaches of Ministerial Code.
She had kept the meetings hidden from the foreign office, and Theresa May said that she did not know about Patelâ€™s off-the-radar high-level meetings this summer, announcing that Patel had apologised to her.
But just a few hours later it was revealed that Patel had met two Israeli ministers again this autumn: Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan in Parliament on September 7 and foreign ministry official Yuval Rotem in New York on September 18.
As in the Summer meetings, it appears no British officials accompanied Priti Patel, and she did not mention them to the Foreign Office or Government as ministerial procedure dictates. As the scandal deepened, the Development minister was recalled to the UK amid speculation that she is about to be fired.
But now theÂ Jewish Chronicle reports:
Jewish Chronicle Senior ReporterÂ Lee Harpin writes: â€śLast nightÂ I wrote on the JC siteÂ that something didnâ€™t add up about Number Tenâ€™s claim that it had no idea about Priti Patelâ€™s meetings with senior Israelis.
â€śAs I put it: â€śWell before last weekâ€™s James Landale scoop about Ms Patelâ€™s meetings with Israeli politicians, I was told very matter of factly that there would soon be an announcement of cooperation between the UK and Israel over aid in Africa â€“ that we would divert some of our aid money to the Israelis to fund some of their aid work there. I was told that it had been signed off between DfID and Number Ten, but that the FCO had kicked off because it felt its toes were being trodden on.â€ť
â€śAfter that story went up, I was contacted by two senior and reliable sources. Both gave exactly the same story: that although Patel had clearly messed up and had to go, the real story was about Number 10.
â€śFar from being unaware, Number 10 knew in full about her meeting with Mr Netanyahu, because Ms Patel had discussed it with the Prime Minister in September, prior to the UN General Assembly.â€ť
So now as well as Priti Patel facing questions about breaking Ministerial Code with undisclosed meetings, there will be calls for the Development Secretary who once co-authored a Tory MPâ€™s report that British workers areÂ Â â€śamong the worst idlers in the worldâ€ť to explain why their taxes should be diverted to fund Israeli aid work.
â€“ As well as calls for the Prime Minister to make clear exactly what she knew about the whole affair.