British minister Priti Patel quits over unsanctioned meetings with Israeli officials

London: British Prime Minister Theresa May is under pressure after another minister was forced to quit in just over a week for breaking protocol while she was holidaying with family in Israel in August.

Priti Patel, Britain’s international development secretary, stepped down on November 8 after apologising for holding unscheduled meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and 11 other officials without informing the prime minister’s office.

Patel also visited an Israeli military field hospital in the Golan Heights which the UK does not accept as part of Israel.

May openly rebuked Patel after the minister tendered her apology on Monday for her conduct. Patel then headed for Uganda on a three-day visit but was summoned by May on Wednesday to explain her undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials.

While accepting Patel’s resignation, May said although the UK wants to work closely with Israel, it has to be done formally.

With Patel’s ouster, Labour may pressure May to divulge details about the former minister’s meetings with Israeli officials.

Michael Fallon resigned as defence secretary on November 1 after the political reporter of Daily Mail called May’s office and said he tried to kiss her on the lips after they had lunched together in 2003.

Israel’s opposition leader Isaac Herzog described Patel’s resignation as a loss for Israel and Britain.

May lost seats in the recent general elections and is facing heat over Brexit negotiations.