On Wednesday, British International Development Secretary Priti Patel resigned after being targeted by an anti-Israel witch hunt.
Ms. Patel came under fire after it emerged that she held a number of meetings with Israeli officials in August and September, without informing other U.K. government officials. Still, there is no indication of any particularly serious error of judgement, such as Israel espionage involvement. I think the real reason Patel resigned is that she recognized the forces arrayed against her wouldn't rest until she fell.
The first culprit is Patel's own Department for International Development. Officials at DFID leaked Patel's query to them earlier this summer over whether the British government could sponsor an Israeli aid project in the Golan Heights. One official told the BBC that even Patel's query was in and of itself "inappropriate."
Of course, it didn't matter that the aid project in question is specifically designed to save Syrian refugees, only that DFID officials hate the idea of supporting Israel in any way. Because the U.K. regards the Golan Heights as Israeli-occupied Syrian territory, DFID officials were especially furious at Patel's conduct.
The second challenge came from the Labour Party opposition. Their fury here was inherently unsurprising but had nothing to do with Patel's breach of the ministerial code. Rather, led by avowed Israel hater, Jeremy "collective" Corbyn (who describes Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah as "my friends"), Labour embraces any opportunity to distance Britain from Israel. Lamenting the Balfour declaration's 100th anniversary, Labour smelled blood in the water.
Nevertheless, Patel should not have resigned.
Instead, she should have apologized and then forced her DFID officials to look in the mirror. After all, DFID controls a vast budget (tied to at least 0.7 percent of Britain's GDP), but has a penchant for waste. For one relevant example, while DFID will spend $51 million in the Palestinian territories this year and roughly $65 million next year, it has actively sponsored anti-Israeli non-governmental organizations.
Prime Minister Theresa May should now appoint Rory Stewart to replace Patel. Stewart should then reshape DFID to ensure it delivers greater efficiency and human returns on investment.