British minister likely to be fired over meetings with Israeli officials

British Minister Priti Patel will likely lose her job after it was revealed that she held secret meetings with Israeli officials, offering to fund the IDF humanitarian operation in Syria. 

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News

A British minister who came under fire for meeting privately and secretly with Israeli officials during the summer, while on a private vacation in the country, is now facing criticism for reportedly suggesting that the UK fund an IDF humanitarian operation in Syria.

The incident began earlier this week when it emerged that British International Development Secretary Priti Patel held 12 meetings with Israeli groups and officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and that she hadn’t told Prime Minister Theresa May or colleagues about it.

When the news broke about the trip, Patel insisted that “[British Foreign Minister] Boris [Johnson] knew about the visit.”

She was later forced to clarify the statement, saying “the foreign secretary did become aware of the visit, but not in advance of it.”

Patel apologized, saying the meetings “did not accord with the usual procedures.”

Some politicians have criticized Patel, saying she was in clear violation of the ministerial code of conduct.

The BBC reported Wednesday that Patel’s future in Theresa May’s cabinet is now uncertain and she may be sacked, after it was further revealed that she held another two meetings in September she did not report about.

On Tuesday it was discovered that Patel had not informed May of her plans to look into giving UK funds to the IDF to treat wounded Syrian refugees in the Golan Heights region, a request that was turned down as “inappropriate” by officials.

The IDF is conducting an extensive operation to provide humanitarian aid to Syrians, including the provision of lifesaving medication, dozens of tons of clothes and hundreds of thousands of liters of fuel and food, as part of “Operation Good Neighbor.”

The primary beneficiaries of the aid are the approximately 200,000 residents of the Hauran region of southwestern Syria. About 400 families live in tents near the Israel-Syria border. The rest live in villages or out in the open. A third of the aid recipients are displaced persons or refugees, and half of them are under the age of 18.

The operation has no immediate military significance.

Patel, who has been a Member of Parliament since 2010, is a longstanding supporter of Israel and a former vice-chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel.