I don't know what Priti Patel was thinking, admits Iain Duncan Smith

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu was in London for talks with Mrs May and to mark a century a century since the Balfour Declaration

British secretary of state for global development Priti Patel has apologised for holding several secret meetings with Israeli officials during a family holiday in August, in which she discussed a number of issues, including India.

Kate Osamor, her Labour shadow, branded Ms Patel's absence "simply unacceptable", a criticism echoed by the SNP's spokesman, Stephen Gethins.

The meetings were arranged by the Conservative peer, and Conservative Friends of Israel honorary president, Lord Polak, who attended the majority of them.

Patel met Yair Lapid, the leader of one of Israel's main political parties, and made visits to several organisations where official departmental business was reportedly discussed, the BBC said.

The Witham MP has apologised for not notifying Downing Street or the Foreign Office of talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others during time out on a family holiday.

Patel blamed her "enthusiasm to engage" for her failure to tell the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson about her high-level encounters, the Daily Mail adds.

Patel also clarified previous remarks to the Guardian newspaper on Friday in which she had appeared to suggest that British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson knew of her schedule beforehand.

Labour's spokeswoman for worldwide development, Kate Osamor, said that Ms. Patel should resign or face an investigation by the Cabinet Office for breach of the ministerial code. The Foreign Office was aware of the visit while it was underway, but were not informed about it in advance.


Kate Osamor, the shadow worldwide development secretary, told the Commons on Tuesday that it was "hard to think of a more black and white case of breaking the ministerial code of conduct".

Burt confirmed that Foreign Office officials only became aware of Patel's visit to Israel on August 24.

He said: "She also had meetings with a number of charities and I find it utterly unsurprising that the global aid secretary would want to talk to charities while she's on holiday in a particular area about whether or not we can use the British aid budget to diminish the humanitarian problems there".

Labour had attempted to force Patel to the Commons to face questions from MPs on her conduct.

"I am sorry for this and I apologise for it", Ms. Patel said in a statement.

Priti Patel discussed giving United Kingdom aid money to humanitarian projects in a disputed region of Israel, Number 10 has admitted.

"The prime minister met the secretary of state this morning to remind her of the obligations which exist under the ministerial code".

They also discussed the Israeli domestic political scene, India, Netanyahu's then-forthcoming visit to London to mark the centenary last week of the Balfour declaration, and "prospects for closer collaboration between Israel and the United Kingdom on development and humanitarian issues".

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