Israeli Minister Unable to Attend COP26 Climate Summit Due to Wheelchair Inaccessibility

Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar was unable to attend the first day of the United Nations’ (UN) COP26 Climate Summit on Nov. 1 because she said it was not wheelchair accessible.

“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,” Elharrar said on Twitter.

Elharrar’s Office told The Times of Israel that Elharrar waited outside the venue in Glasgow, Scotland for two hours until she was eventually forced to return to her hotel in Edinburgh, which was 80 kilometers away.

Elharrar reportedly told Israel’s Channel 12 news that the only way for her to attend the conference was to either walk on foot for nearly a kilometer or ride a shuttle that was not designed for wheelchairs.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid criticized the organizers, saying on Twitter, “It is impossible to safeguard our future and address the climate crisis, without first and foremost caring for people, including ensuring accessibility for people with disabilities.”

United Kingdom Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan apologized on Twitter and said that he was “deeply disturbed” to hear of the incident.

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

UK Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly also said on Twitter that he has spoken to Elharrar regarding the matter and looked forward to meeting her on Nov. 2.

An Israeli official said that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had invited Elharrar to join a meeting on Nov. 2 with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet.

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