British International Development Secretary Priti Patel has resigned after an escalating controversy over unauthorized meetings with Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Patel is a member of the Conservative Party. She wrote in her letter of resignation to British Prime Minister Theresa May, submitted Wednesday, “I offer a fulsome apology to you and to the government for what has happened, and offer my resignation,” adding there were a “number of reports about my actions and I am sorry that these have served as a distraction.”
In response, May said “The UK and Israel are close allies, and it is right that we should work closely together. But that must be done formally.” She accepted Patel’s resignation.
Patel was on a family vacation in Israel in August 2017 when she met a total of 12 times with Israel’s prime minister and various other Israeli officials. But she didn’t get authorization from British Prime Minister Theresa May prior to the meetings, and received a reprimand as a result.
In September she again met twice with Israeli officials, including one meeting with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan.
The opposition Labour Party has demanded an investigation into Patel’s actions, saying that she breached ministerial code, which requires cabinet ministers to first obtain approval from the Foreign Office and Commonwealth Office for meeting with foreign leaders. Since Patel’s meetings took place on holiday, she said she believed there was no violation of the code.
Likewise, May met with Patel and chose not to dismiss her, although she reminded her of “her obligations which exist under the ministerial code,” according to a government spokesperson.