By Zain Hussain, MSc International Politics
From the 13th to the 25th August 2017, Priti Patel, The British Secretary of State for International Development visited Israel on a family holiday. However, during that time she met a number of politicians, businesses, tech start-ups and humanitarian NGOs, to learn more about the Israeli approach to technology and development. The meetings were arranged by the Lord Polak CBE, the longtime head of the Conservative Friends of Israel. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) were aware of the meetings while they were underway. Patel was summoned by PM Theresa May and forced to resign on 8 November 2017.
The UK government website lists some people and organisations who the Secretary of State met with, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom she allegedly spoke about the Israeli domestic political scene, India, the Netanyahu’s then forthcoming visit to the UK and prospects for closer collaboration between Israel and the UK. She also met with Yuval Rotem, the Israeli Foreign Minister, with whom she discussed British Politics, Israel’s approach to development and humanitarian issues, and prospects of partnership work between Israel and the UK on development and humanitarian issues. Her discussion with Gilad Erdan, Israeli Minister for Public Security, involved a discussion on the growing anti-Semitism within the British Political scene and a cultural festival in London.
In a statement by her published on the 6th November 2017, Patel states “I can see how my enthusiasm 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.” Interestingly, however, she has allegedly received support from some members of her conservative constituency, Witham, while attending an Armistice Day service the week following her resignation.