British Minister in serious trouble over 12 secret meetings in Israel
British Prime Minister Theresa May has summoned her International Development Secretary Priti Patel back from a trip to Africa following a scandal over unauthorized meetings in Israel, prompting speculation she will be the second minister in a week to be fired.
Patel left London on Tuesday on a trip to Uganda, but a UK government source said she was returning to London Wednesday at May's request.
Patel was forced to apologies on Monday for taking a family holiday to Israel in August and holding 12 separate meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other politicians without May's knowledge.
She was publicly reprimanded by the prime minister but appeared to keep her job. However, it emerged late Tuesday there had been another two unauthorized meetings in September.
Patel’s trip was cut short when she revealed two more previously undisclosed meetings with Israeli politicians, amid reports that she also breached protocol by visiting Syria’s Golan Heights, which have been occupied by Israel since 1967.
Patel has been under pressure to quit her post after failing to come clean with May over 12 other meetings she had held with senior Israeli figures, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
On Wednesday, The Sun newspaper reported that she had also failed to disclose that she had met the director general of Israel’s foreign ministry, Yuval Rotem, in New York.
A UK government source confirmed those meetings took place.
The main opposition Labour Party has demanded an investigation into whether Patel's behavior breached the ministerial code.
If sacked, Patel would become the second minister to leave May's government in a week, after former Defense Secretary Michael Fallon quit on November 1 in a scandal over sexual harassment that has rocked parliament.