Priti #Patel proposed UK aid for israeli army on secret trip


Priti Patel proposed UK aid for Israeli army on secret trip

Calls for minister to resign after revelations over ‘family holiday’ Priti Patel held 12 meetings in Israel, including with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu

By Henry Mance, Financial Times
November 07, 2017

EXTRACT
Priti Patel, the UK international development secretary, wanted to give British aid money to the Israeli army following a secret trip to the country with a pro-Israeli lobbyist in the summer. Ms Patel’s plans were scotched by UK officials, who said it was “not appropriate” for Britain to provide aid for use in the Golan Heights. The UK considers the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in 1967, to be part of Syria.

However, following Ms Patel’s 12-day trip to Israel in August, she also proposed “more co-operation between the UK and the Israeli aid agency”. Her department is currently “working hard” on that idea, her junior minister Alistair Burt confirmed on Tuesday. The revelations raise the prospect that Ms Patel’s “family holiday” in Israel will affect how Britain’s aid budget is spent. ….

Ms Patel held 12 meetings in Israel, including with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, public security minister Gilad Erdan, and the politician Yair Lapid. The Foreign Office only became aware of her visit on August 24, the day that Mr Lapid tweeted a photograph of him and Mrs Patel. Downing Street did not become aware until November 3.

One former UK official said that while there was a low risk that Ms Patel had revealed information which could compromise her or UK security, the British intelligence services “won’t be particularly pleased” at her unauthorised contact with senior Israeli politicians and officials. “They’ll be thinking ‘Oh God, the Israelis should not be allowed to get away with this sort of thing’,” added the former official. “Israel takes more risks than other democracies . . . Developing a relationship with senior figures in the UK cabinet is an opportunity they wouldn’t miss.” None of Ms Patel’s meetings in Israel involved Palestinian politicians or groups……

All of Ms Patel’s meetings in Israel were organised by the honorary president of Conservative Friends of Israel, Stuart Polak… Conservative MP Hugo Swire said the trip raised questions about lobbyists’ influence.

The Conservative Friends of Israel is one of the most best-connected groups at Westminster. “What people want is transparency and accountability,” said Sir Hugo, a former Foreign Office minister. “It is time finally to address the issue of privileged access and lobbying and funding, if we are not to have this repeating time and time again.”

Crispin Blunt, another Conservative MP, said that ministers needed to “understand all the perspectives around” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Additional reporting by David Bond 



Priti Patel, an ardent Thatcherite and Brexiteer, a former supporter of Goldsmith’s Referendum party. Her father was a UKIP candidate. A passion for Israel logically follows. Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA W

Priti Patel discussed giving British foreign aid money to Israeli army, Downing Street confirms

Number 10 highlights that country’s armed forces run field hospital for Syrian refugees in Golan Heights – where the UK does not recognise Israel’s permanent presence

By Joe Watts, Political Editor, The Independent
November 07, 2017

Downing Street has admitted that International Development Secretary Priti Patel discussed with Israel the idea of giving the country British foreign aid cash.

A Number 10 spokesman said a conversation had taken place between Ms Patel and Israeli officials, after it was reported that she had suggested funnelling money to the country’s armed forces.

Theresa May’s spokesman highlighted that the country’s army runs a hospital for Syrian refugees, but said the UK currently provides no financial support to Israeli forces and that there would be no change in policy.

Any move to provide aid money to Israeli armed forces which have been engaged in bloody campaigns in Palestinian occupied territories, would prove hugely controversial in the UK.

The admission heaps embarrassment on Ms May who was completely unaware that Ms Patel had met the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other key figures on her holiday to the country.

It also comes amid a storm over Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s erroneous comments which have left a British citizen imprisoned in Iran facing a sentence twice as long as it currently is.

The Downing Street spokesman said: “[Ms Patel] did discuss potential ways to  provide medical support for Syrian refugees who are wounded who cross into the Golan Heights for aid.

“The Israeli army runs field hospitals there to care for Syrians wounded in the civil war, but there is no change in policy in this area. The UK doesn’t provide any financial support to the Israeli army.”

Asked whether Ms Patel had informed Ms May of this part of her visit once it eventually came to light, the spokesman said: “She was absolutely clear on everybody she had met, and [her department] has been very clear this conversation did take place. But there hasn’t been any change in policy resulting from that. There is no UK financial support for the Israeli army.”

Ms Patel only made Ms May aware of the meetings on Friday, more than two months after they took place, when reports began to emerge of talks she held with a politician and a disability charity.

The minister has apologised and admitted a “lack of precision” for suggesting last week that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson knew about the trip, and that only two meetings had taken place when she attended 12.

But she appears to have avoided the sack after going to Number 10 on Monday to apologise to the Prime Ministerwho “reminded her of her obligations” under the ministerial code, the PM’s official spokesman said.

Ms May has been forced to say since that she still has full confidence in Ms Patel, despite having to give her a dressing down over the affair, which saw the cabinet minister take time out from a family holiday to meet Mr Netanyahu, other politicians, businesses and charities without telling the Foreign Office.

On returning, Ms Patel commissioned Department for International Development work on disability and humanitarian and development partnerships between Israel and the UK.

Ms May’s spokesman added: “The Secretary of State has been clear with No 10 that on no other occasions while a minister has she organised meetings with foreign government ministers outside the normal channels while on holiday.”

Shadow International Development Secretary Kate Osamor called for an investigation, adding: “No one should be unsackable. Theresa May’s weak refusal to launch an investigation just won’t be acceptable to the British public.

Priti Patel must now explain her actions in full before Parliament.”

Source Article from https://uprootedpalestinians.wordpress.com/2017/11/08/priti-patel-proposed-uk-aid-for-israeli-army-on-secret-trip/

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