Priti Patel suggested sending aid cash to Israeli army after secret meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu
Priti Patel suggested sending UK aid cash to the Israeli army following secret meetings with senior officials in the country, including its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The revelation piles further pressure on the International Development Secretary, who was was forced to apologise yesterday for holding the talks while she was meant to be on a family holiday.
In an extraordinary statement, she admitted failing to tell the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of her plans ahead of the August trip, and only informed the Prime Minister on Friday of the meeting with Mr Netanyahu.
Her department also admitted Ms Patel had "commissioned work on humanitarian and development partnership between Israel and the UK, and on disability", when she returned to London.
But junior international development minister, Alistair Burt told MPs today confirmed that involved the possibility of sending funding to the Israeli army to help with their work assisting Syrian refugees in the Golan Heights.
He said: "Two issues were raised by the Secretary of State on her return. One related to aid currently being provided by the Israeli army for those in Syria who could not get medical assistance and cross the border in order to get it from the IDF [Israel Defence Forces].
"And the second issue she raised was whether or not there was room for more co-operation between the UK and the Israeli aid agency as we look at issues right across the region."
However, Mr Burt said that Ms Patel was told that giving UK taxpayers' cash to Israel would be inappropriate as the Government does not recognise its occupation of the area.
Earlier, the Prime Minister's spokesman said: “The Secretary of State did discuss potential ways to provide medical support for Syrian refugees who are wounded and who cross into the Golan for aid.
“The Israeli army runs field hospitals there to care for Syrians wounded in the civil war. But there is no change in policy in the area. The UK does not provide any financial support to the Israeli army."
It emerged yesterday that Ms Patel had been hauled into Downing Street for a dressing down by Theresa May for her handling of the affair.
However, Number 10 has insisted they consider the matter closed, and Ms Patel's position is not at risk.