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A day late, Israeli minister in wheelchair can access COP26

A spokeswoman for Elharrar said Monday that she wasn't able to attend the conference after police officers at a checkpoint did not let her vehicle with the wheelchair through.

Israel Energy Minister Karine Elharrar arrived on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021 to the global climate summit in Scotland, a day after police prevented her wheelchair accessible vehicle from reaching the conference's venue. (AP)

Israel’s energy minister, who uses a wheelchair, was able to attend the global climate summit Tuesday, a day after police prevented her from reaching the venue.

Energy Minister Karine Elharrar arrived at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow alongside Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, using a blue ramp to enter the building, according to footage sent by Bennett’s office.

“Tomorrow the exact same thing will be here,” he said, gesturing toward the accessible entrance. “It’s very important, so is the message” it sends, he said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, right, greets Israel’s Energy Minister Karine Elharrar, centre left, prior to a meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on the sidelines of the COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland. (AP)

A spokeswoman for Elharrar said Monday that she wasn’t able to attend the conference after police officers at a checkpoint did not let her vehicle with the wheelchair through.

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Elharrar’s spokeswoman Shaked Eliyahu said that even though conference organizers knew she required an accessible entrance, the minister’s car was kept from approaching for two hours, after which she was offered a ride on a shuttle — which wasn’t wheelchair accessible.

The incident was an embarrassment to organizers of the high-profile event and prompted Britain’s ambassador to Israel, Neil Wigan, to apologize.

After the incident, Elharrar wrote on Twitter that “It’s sad that the UN, which advances accessibility for people with disabilities, in 2021, doesn’t see to accessibility at its events.” Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a tweet addressed to the conference’s organizers that “you cannot be concerned about the future, climate, and sustainability if you aren’t concerned first of all to people, accessibility, and people with disabilities.”

First published on: 02-11-2021 at 18:12 IST
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