PRESSURE was mounting on Theresa May as the Star went to press last night after allegations that Downing Street ordered a cover-up over Priti Patel’s meetings with Israeli officials.
Ms Patel was widely expected to be sacked after she was summoned back from Uganda where she had been on an official government-sanctioned trip with International Trade Secretary Liam Fox.
The scandal escalated after the Jewish Chronicle claimed that Ms May knew about details of Ms Patel’s secret meetings and asked her to cover them up.
Chronicle political editor Marcus Dysch said the “sensational” allegations called the PM’s future into doubt.
The newspaper stood by its story yesterday, saying No 10 knew more about Ms Patel’s “freelancing” than it had admitted.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Ms Patel had visited the Golan Heights during her undisclosed visits to senior Israeli officials, which she failed to mention in her statement to the Commons on Monday.
The visit is a serious breach of diplomatic protocol. The British government — along with the rest of the international community — does not recognise Israeli control of the Golan Heights, which Tel Aviv stole from Syria in a 1967 land grab during the six-day war.
Ms Patel was rebuked by Downing Street on Tuesday after she suggested channelling humanitarian aid money to the Israeli army without consulting Ms May.
However explosive new accusations were made against Ms Patel as Jewish Chronicle sources revealed that she had two unsanctioned meetings in September.
She was photographed on the Commons terrace with Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on September 7 and on September 18 she met the Foreign Ministry’s top civil servant Yuval Rotem while in New York.
Mr Erdan described Ms Patel as “a woman of great courage,” saying they were “taking concrete action to advance UK-Israel development co-operation and counter attempts to delegitimise Israel in international institutions.”
A scandal erupted earlier this year when undercover investigations conducted by Al-Jazeera alleged that there was a major operation — funded by the Israeli government — to influence British politics and take down MPs who oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Shadow international development secretary Kate Osamor called for Ms Patel to be sacked and demanded an investigation into the scandal.
She told BBC News that the PM was being “undermined and is taking far too long to respond to this inappropriate, unacceptable behaviour.”
Ms Osamor branded Ms May weak, adding: “The sooner she gets rid of Priti Patel” the better standing she will have.