UK Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel met Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem and Security Minister Gilad Erdan in secret.
Patel was heading back to London after cancelling meetings on a planned trip to Africa to respond to media reports that she failed to declare meetings with Israeli officials in a breach of diplomatic protocol.
On November 3, the Sun newspaper reported that Priti had held undisclosed meetings in Israel. On November 8, the Sun reported that she had failed to disclose that she had met the director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Yuval Rotem, in New York and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan in London.
Under British protocol, a cabinet minister would normally organise meetings through the foreign office and be accompanied by officials, and visits with Israelis would typically be balanced with meetings with Palestinians. Patel was also reported to have visited the Golan Heights, territory disputed between Israel and Syria, which British officials tend to avoid.
A spokesman for Theresa May denied that the prime minister had been aware of Patel’s meeting with Netanyahu in advance.
“It is not true that the prime minister knew about the International Development Secretary’s meeting with PM Netanyahu before Friday November 3,” the spokesman said.