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UK Cabinet Member Forced to Resign Over Secret Meetings With Israeli Officials

© REUTERS / Peter NichollsPriti Patel, Britain's Secretary of State for International Development arrives in Downing Street, in London, October 31, 2017
Priti Patel, Britain's Secretary of State for International Development arrives in Downing Street, in London, October 31, 2017 - Sputnik International
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Priti Patel, Britain's secretary of state for international development, has resigned from her official government duties following the discovery that she'd held a series of secret meetings with Israeli officials.

Patel, who was reprimanded on Monday by Downing Street after the meetings came to light earlier this month, is the second cabinet member to depart from the UK government within a week. She was called back to London Wednesday after more details about the meetings emerged, despite her having told UK Prime Minister Theresa May there was nothing more to be learned.

According to Laura Kuenssberg, a BBC political editor, a source said Patel "would rather resign than be sacked."

The 45-year-old official was on a trip to Uganda and Ethiopia when May requested her trip to be cut short.

"In recent days there have been a number of reports about my actions and I am sorry that these have served as a distraction from the work of the Department for International Development and the government as a whole," Patel's resignation letter, obtained by the BBC, reads. "As you know from our discussions I accept that in meeting with organisations and politicians during a private holiday in Israel my actions fell below the high standards that are expected of a secretary of state."

"While my actions were meant with the best of intentions, my actions also fell below the standards of transparency and openness that I have promoted and advocated," the letter adds.

Per the Guardian, May acknowledged that Patel's resignation was the appropriate choice, noting that communication between the UK and Israel "must be done formally and through official channels."

British Prime Minister Theresa May waits for the arrival of European Council President Donald Tusk prior to a bilateral meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk during an EU summit in Brussels on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017 - Sputnik International
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Patel broke ministerial rules when, while on vacation in August, she met with politicians and businessmen from Israel without informing the UK Foreign Office or Downing Street; however, in an interview with the Guardian on Friday, Patel did claim she informed Boris Johnson, UK secretary of state for foreign affairs, about the meetings. She also added that the Foreign Office had known about the meetings, but "briefed against her."

The following Monday, Patel was forced to apologize and retract her Friday statements. In total Patel revealed she had 12 meetings in Israel.

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