COP26: Israeli energy minister, in wheelchair, denied access on first day

She searched for a handicapped-accessible entrance for about two hours. In vain. Monday 1is November, Israeli Energy Minister Karin Elharar, who suffers from muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, was unable to attend COP26 in Glasgow (Scotland).

Like nearly 30,000 people, Elharar made the trip especially from his country to participate in the 26e United Nations climate conference.

Read the explanations: Accessibility for the disabled: why the 2015 deadline was not tenable

Asked about the Israeli channel Channel 12, the minister explained that the only options for getting to the conference venue were to walk or use a shuttle that was not equipped to accommodate wheelchairs, Reuters news agency reports.

Mme Elharar also reacted on Twitter :

“I came to COP26 to meet my counterparts around the world and advance our common fight against the climate crisis. It is sad that the United Nations, which promotes accessibility for people with disabilities, is not concerned in 2021 about accessibility to their own events. “

“I hope that the necessary lessons will be learned and that I can [mardi] promote green energies ”, she added.

An “unacceptable” situation

The minister’s spokesperson explained to Agence France-Presse that security officials had not allowed her adapted vehicle to access the site, despite efforts ” during two hours “ from the office of the Israeli prime minister. Outraged, the head of state of Israel, Naftali Bennett, went so far as to threaten not to attend the COP26 activities on Tuesday if his colleague was deprived of access to the climate conference.

According to Jerusalem Post, M. Bennett, a appelé Mme Elharar to support him, condemning a situation “Unacceptable”. He also offered the Minister of Energy a place in his official convoy in order to guarantee his access to the conference on Tuesday.

For his part, Israeli Foreign Minister Yaïr Lapid called on the organizers of the COP on Twitter, declaring:

“It’s impossible to care about the future, the climate and sustainability if we don’t look at people, accessibility and people with disabilities first. “

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UK Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan said ” disturbed “ by this incident on Twitter and apologized to Mme Elharar, adding: “We want a climate conference that is welcoming and inclusive for everyone. “

According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), a source in Bennett’s delegation said the Israeli prime minister raised the issue with his British counterpart, Boris Johnson, before their meeting scheduled for Tuesday. The two heads of government agreed that scatter “Would have access to the site with Mr. Bennett and participate in the meeting with Mr. Johnson”, according to this source.

Mardi, the minister was indeed able to enter the premises of the conference. Britain’s James Cleverly, Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, posted on Twitter a photo of himself chatting with Elharrar accompanied by the following caption: “Very good discussion with the Israeli energy minister @KElharrar [Karin Elharar] at COP26 this morning on the production of green energy and the use of technology to wean the world from hydrocarbons. “

Le Monde with AFP and Reuters

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COP26: Israeli energy minister, in wheelchair, denied access on first day