Story at a glance
- Israel’s energy and water resources minister, Karine Elharrar, who uses a wheelchair, was reportedly denied entry at the COP26 climate summit because organizers would not let her vehicle enter the compound.
- The United Kingdom’s environment secretary, George Eustice, said the incident was a result of miscommunication, adding that organizers “deeply regret that incident.”
- Eharrar successfully gained entry to the summit on Tuesday alongside Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet.
Israel’s energy and water resources minister, Karine Elharrar, who uses a wheelchair due to her muscular dystrophy, was reportedly denied entry to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, because organizers would not let her vehicle enter the compound.
Israel Energy Minister Karine Elharrar arrives for a group portrait with incoming Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, outgoing President Reuvin Rivlin, and her fellow cabinet ministers in the new government, on June 14, 2021 in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
Elharrar waited outside the compound for two hours. She was eventually offered a shuttle, which 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,” Elharrar wrote on Twitter. “It is sad that the UN, which promotes accessibility for people with disabilities, in 2021, does not provide accessibility to its events.”
The United Kingdom’s environment secretary, George Eustice, said the incident was a result of miscommunication, adding that organizers “deeply regret that incident.”
“I know that at most of the other entrances, wheelchair access is there. It was because she came to an entrance where they didn’t have that provision,” he told BBC Radio 4’s “Today.”
Elharrar continued that the only way she could get in “was to walk on foot for almost a kilometer, or to board a shuttle which was not wheelchair-accessible.”
“The UN calls on everyone to act in accordance with the international convention and to make places accessible, so it is fitting that its events should be accessible,” she told Ynetnews. “I sincerely hope that today’s lesson will be learned so that tomorrow promoting green energies, removing barriers and energy efficiency will be the only things I have to deal with.”
Elharrar successfully gained entry to the summit on Tuesday alongside Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, The Times of Israel reported.
When entering, Bennet reportedly pointed to the ramp and assured her that “tomorrow, it will be exactly the same.”
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