Palestinian official condemns British minister Israel talks
November 08 2017 08:16 PM
Priti Patel arriving to attend the weekly meeting of the cabinet at Downing Street in central London
Priti Patel arriving to attend the weekly meeting of the cabinet at Downing Street in central London. File photo taken on September 12, 2017.

AFP/Jerusalem

A senior Palestinian official on Wednesday condemned a British minister's unauthorised meetings in Israel as "scandalous", urging Prime Minister Theresa May to take action.

British International Development Secretary Priti Patel was summoned back from a trip to Africa on Wednesday to meet with May, with speculation she would be fired.

Patel had apologised Monday for holding 12 separate meetings -- including with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- during a family holiday to Israel in August, without notifying the Foreign Office or Downing Street in advance.

Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi condemned the visit, accusing Israel of seeking to turn ministers in foreign government into "advocates" through illegitimate means.

"I think it is scandalous and that leads me to question how many more cases, not just in Britain but other places, have not been exposed," Ashrawi told AFP.

"It must warrant serious investigation and serious accountability," she said, though she stopped short of calling on May to fire her.

"I think Israeli meddling in other governments' affairs has to be looked into."

During her meetings, Patel discussed the possibility of British aid being used to support medical assistance for Syrian refugees arriving in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Downing Street said.

Reports suggest however that she had not explained to May that this involved supplying funding to the Israeli army, which has facilitated the treatment of wounded refugees in Israeli hospitals.



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