The media have focussed on the sacking of Priti Patel as Secretary of State for International Aid, and breaking the Ministerial Code, but they have said little about what she was doing in all her contacts with the Israeli Government and why she would say things that seemed to be untrue. She said, for example, that Boris knew about the trip. So we ask the questions why did she meet Benjamin Netanjahu and others top Israeli officials and what did other Departments know?
We have been informed that Ms Patel was discussing the use of UK aid to help the Israeli army in their humanitarian activities. This was not a casual process as we see from the frequency of the meetings, and it was also for a purpose. “ Downing Street officials confirmed on Tuesday that the International Development Secretary discussed the idea of giving the Israel Defence Force British foreign aid to help fund a relief effort for Syrian refugees entering the Israeli occupied Golan Heights.” (Jewish Chronicle) This in itself is odd. Largely, the Jewish Government has prevented Syrian refugees from entering the Golan Heights which it controls. Why would it want potential terrorists in its occupied area? Some have come in for medical treatment, but no more. So, this was discussing the potential influx of refugees and aid which might accompany it, channelled through the Israeli Army. So why would Ms Patel, a rational person, channel aid through the Israeli army to potential Syrian refugees when she has millions of actual Syrian refugees in immediate desperate need requiring aid? It does not add up.
We notice that Downing Street put out the denial that the Foreign Secretary, Boris knew about the (holiday) visit before it occurred, not the Foreign Office, probably because they did not trust the FCO to do it properly. We note that although there was a denial that Boris knew about the visit beforehand, it did not mean that he was unaware of the reason for the visit, whatever that was.
So, the question remains, Why would Ms Patel channel aid for Syrian refugees who may not exist in large numbers through the Israeli army? There may be another explanation. At present this is speculative. The aid may have been linked to arms exports from the UK to Israel. There are a wide range of exports, but the current priority export may be drones, made by BAe Systems and others. The Israeli Army could be seen as wanting drones to monitor what is going on in Gaza and elsewhere. The “aid” could be seen as a bribe to get the Israeli Government to take up the deal.
Another bit of the picture may be Sir Michael Fallon’s resignation. It does not quite add up. There was one event when he put his hand on the knee of a reporter who saw it as having no significance, and other “misdemeanours” which fell below the “standards expected in the armed forces”. There were no charges by aggrieved women and no external evidence that Fallon had behaved like this. If Fallon did not resign for the stated reason, then perhaps he resigned for another undisclosed reason. He has long pushed deals for UK arms companies, including BAe Systems, and it may be that escaping from this military story was involved.
Of course, if all of this is not the case, it is not the case. But it should be investigated. Did Boris, Sir Michael Fallon, Priti Patel and Liam Fox know about such a potential arms deal, and was this the rationale for the Patel visit, and its secrecy. If so, it is appalling that aid to help the poor should be so used, and further resignations should follow. If not, I apologise to all involved for such suspicion.