UK international development minister Pritti Patel was forced to resign Wednesday over “undisclosed meetings” with Israeli politicians and officials during a two-day private family visit to Israel. In a letter she posted on Nov. 6, Patel said: “My first and only aim as the Secretary of State for International Development is to put the interests of British taxpayers and the world’s poor at the front of our development work.”
Britain’s most senior Indian-origin minister said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was aware of her activities, “But she could see how meetings were set up and reported in a way which did not accord with the usual procedures.” For this she apologized.
It later emerged that she had further meetings with Israeli officials that were not disclosed through the proper procedure. In the wake of her visit, Patel was reported to have discussed potentially providing some of Britain’s aid money to Israel’s armed forces, which run field hospitals in the Golan Heights area.
Britain does not officially recognize Israeli occupation of the area and DfID was reportedly advised against any such move. Summoned home by May, she cut short her official visit to Uganda and Ethiopia Wednesday and flew back to London to tender her resignation.
Her interest in Israeli methods of rehabilitation and welfare contacts were drawing Palestinian complaints to the UK government. The foreign office was also furious over Patel’s go-it-alone activities outside of standard diplomatic procedures.