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  1. ITV Report

Priti Patel's Israel meetings risk undermining trust in UK, says Palestinian ambassador

Priti Patel's undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials risks undermining Palestinian confidence in Britain's support for a two-state solution, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK has said.

Manuel Hassassian told ITV News the international development secretary's decision to meet Israeli officials while on holiday without informing the Foreign Office and while accompanied by a pro-Israel lobbyist was "shocking" and looked like "taking one side" over the other.

The UK officially backs a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

But Mr Hassassian said Ms Patel's actions "makes me feel like we [the Palestinians] don't exist".

Ms Patel held 12 meeting with Israeli officials, including one with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, apparently while on a family holiday.

Ms Patel held 12 meeting with Israeli officials while on holiday Credit: PA

She failed to inform the Foreign Office ahead of the meetings, during which it emerged she discussed channeling British development aid to the Israeli military - known as the Israeli Defence Force, or IDF - to support its "humanitarian" efforts in the Golan Heights.

However, the UK does not officially recognise Israel's presence in the Golan Heights, which were seized from Syria in 1967.

Mr Hassassian said such a move would be "like giving money for the occupier to continue his occupation".

"It makes me feel that there is contradiction within the position of the government," Mr Hassassian told ITV News.

"If a cabinet minister goes along and says she wants to funnel money to the IDF, and to funnel money to occupied Golan Heights - I mean, this is in total contradiction of the main policies of this government that is pushing for a two-state solution."

Labour's Kate Osamor had questions for Ms Patel, but the minister was away on business

Kate Osamor, Labour's shadow international development secretary, posed an urgent question in the Commons, but Ms Patel was unavailable to attend as she was away on official business in Africa.

Instead, Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt turned up at the dispatch box on her behalf and told MPs that "UK interests were not damaged or affected" by Ms Patel's actions.

The international development secretary has apologised for holding the meetings "in a way which did not accord with the usual procedures".