Energy Minister Karine Elharrar

Wheelchair-bound Israeli minister left out of climate summit due to inaccessibility

Energy Minister Karine Elharrar was unable to enter the event compound due to accessibility issues, and despite the Israeli delegation's best efforts, was forced to return to the hotel; Bennett calls incident 'unacceptable'

Ilana Curiel, Nina Fox |
Published: 11.01.21, 21:10
Energy Minister Karine Elharrar, who is wheelchair bound, was prevented from attending the UN climate conference in Glasgow, widely known as COP26, on Monday due to inaccessibility.
  • Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter

  • According to sources in the Israeli delegation to the climate summit, organizers refused to let Elharrar enter the large compound in the vehicle in which she arrived. They offered her to board a shuttle to the venue instead, but it was not wheelchair-accessible.
    2 צפייה בגלריה
    קארין אלהרר באולפן ynet
    קארין אלהרר באולפן ynet
    Energy Minister Karine Elharrar
    (Photo: Yariv Katz)
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke with Elharrar after he learned of the incident, which he called "unacceptable."
    While he addressed the conference, Elharrar was making her way back to the hotel.
    Under his direction, Elharrar’s vehicle will arrive at the venue as part of the prime minister's official convoy on Tuesday.
    Elharrar, who has muscular dystrophy, told Ynet that organizers blocked all roads leading to the conference and left her out despite the Israeli delegation's best efforts to convince security to let her in.
    2 צפייה בגלריה
    President of the United Nations General Assembly Abdulla Shahid is seen on screen as he speaks at the start of UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow
    President of the United Nations General Assembly Abdulla Shahid is seen on screen as he speaks at the start of UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow
    President of the United Nations General Assembly Abdulla Shahid is seen on screen as he speaks at the start of UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow
    (Photo: Reuters)
    “It was impossible to get in with a car and I could not make that distance independently,” she said. "It's outrageous conduct and it should not have happened. I came for certain purposes and could not achieve them today, but there will be other opportunities."
    "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. 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."
    British Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan took to Twitter to apologize for the incident.
    "I am disturbed to hear that @KElharrar was unable to attend meetings at #COP26," he wrote. "I apologise deeply and sincerely to the Minister. We want a COP Summit that is welcoming and inclusive to everyone."
    Talkbacks for this article 0