COP26: Israeli minister unable to attend Glasgow summit – ‘Does not provide accessibility’

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Wheelchair-using Israeli energy minister Karine Elharrar, 44, said she was unable to join delegates at Glasgow’s SEC Centre as the only options were to either walk or take a shuttle bus. Writing on Twitter, Ms Elharrar told her 31,200 followers: “I came to COP26 to meet with my counterparts around the world and promote a common struggle in the climate crisis.

“It is sad that the UN, which promotes accessibility for people with disabilities, in 2021, does not provide accessibility to its events.

“Hopefully the lessons learned will be learned so that tomorrow green energy promotion, removal of barriers and energy efficiency will be the things I will deal with.”

Ms Elharrar’s office told the Jerusalem-based Times of Israel, she waited outside the venue for around two hours and was eventually forced to return to her hotel – which was located 50 miles away in Edinburgh.

Following Ms Elharrar’s response, the UK’s ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan issued a “deeply and sincerely” held apology for the incident.

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Writing on Twitter, Mr Neil wrote: “I am disturbed to hear that @KElharrarwas unable to attend meetings at #COP26 I apologise deeply and sincerely to the Minister.

“We want a COP Summit that is welcoming and inclusive to everyone.”

The Conservative MP for Braintree, James Cleverly, also made public his dismay at Elharrar’s misfortune.

The Middle East and North Africa Minister said: “I am deeply disappointed and frustrated that Minister @KElharrar could not access COP today

“The COP venue is designed to be accessible for all.

“I have spoken to the Minister about this and I look forward to meeting her tomorrow.”

According to the BBC, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett informed organisers and Boris Johnson about the issue.

Following this, the national broadcaster claimed the UK Prime Minister had invited Ms Elharrar to attend a meeting between Mr Johnson and Mr Bennett later today.

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An official also claimed Mr Bennett, who replaced Benjamin Netanyahu last June, would not attend Tuesday’s COP26 events if his energy minister could not access the summit.

Ms Elharrar has also said she hopes a solution can be found before COP26 reconvenes later today.

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