The Patel case: an aid worker’s perspective

(This blog was originally published at the IPR blog)

By Elise Reslinger

On 8 November, Priti Patel resigned from her position as UK Secretary of State for International Development. This resignation followed the revelation, three months after the fact, of unauthorised meetings with Israeli officials including the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Protocol requires these meetings to be authorised to ensure their compliance with UK foreign affairs priorities, and for a risk assessment to be undertaken. Following these meetings, Patel asked her team to investigate the possibility of funding the Israeli army’s field hospitals based in the Golan Heights – a territory toward which the UK Government, in keeping with UN Resolution 497, rejects Israel’s claim of sovereignty. Officially, the UK views the Golan Heights as illegally occupied Syrian land. What happened has been commented on heavily since in the media and among government circles; such conversations have raised the implications of this breach of protocol for UK politics, the question of a tacit acceptance on the part of the UK for Patel to meet the various interlocutors, subsequent questions about collusion between the UK and Israeli governments and concerns about a lack of accountability to British taxpayers[1]. I would like to consider the Patel case from the perspective of a former aid worker in the occupied Palestinian territory. My main focus is how this case affects existing aid beneficiaries, in this case Palestinians, and what the impact of this public lack of impartiality and neutrality on humanitarian aid and aid workers will be. Continue reading