The UK’s international development minister, Priti Patel, discussed with Israeli diplomats the idea of giving British foreign aid money to the Israeli army, Downing Street has confirmed.
A Number 10 spokesman said a conversation had taken place between Ms Patel and Israeli officials, after it was reported that she had suggested funnelling money to the Israeli armed forces.
Theresa May’s spokesman highlighted that the Israeli army runs a hospital for Syrian refugees, but said the UK currently provides no financial support to Israeli forces and that there would be no change in policy.
The admission heaps embarrassment on PM May who was completely unaware that Ms Patel had met the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other key figures during her holiday to Israel.
The Downing Street spokesman said: “[Ms Patel] did discuss potential ways to provide medical support for Syrian refugees who are wounded who cross into the Golan Heights for aid.
“The Israeli army runs field hospitals there to care for Syrians wounded in the civil war, but there is no change in policy in this area. The UK doesn’t provide any financial support to the Israeli army.”
Asked whether Ms Patel had informed Ms May of this part of her visit once it eventually came to light, the spokesman said: “She was absolutely clear on everybody she had met, and [her department] has been very clear this conversation did take place.
“But there hasn’t been any change in policy resulting from that. There is no UK financial support for the Israeli army.”