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Israel minister to meet Johnson at COP26, day after being stopped entering summit in wheelchair

Karine Elharrar missed yesterday’s events when security staff would not let her car through.

Karine Elharrar, Orna Barbivai and Meir Cohen, politicians from the Yesh Atid party
Karine Elharrar, Orna Barbivai and Meir Cohen, politicians from the Yesh Atid party
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

ISRAEL’S ENERGY MINISTER is to meet British Premier Boris Johnson at the COP26 climate summit today, a day after she was prevented from entering the site in her wheelchair.

Karine Elharrar missed yesterday’s events when security staff would not let her car through, a spokeswoman for the minister told AFP.

British media reported Elharrar could not reach the site because shuttle buses taking people to the venue were unsuitable for wheelchairs.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said the delegation spent two hours trying to facilitate Elharrar’s entry but ultimately failed “due to it not being fully wheelchair accessible”, and issued a formal complaint.

Elharrar said that “it is sad that the UN, which promotes accessibility for people with disabilities, in the year 2021, doesn’t arrange for accessibility in its events”.

“I hope the necessary lessons are learned so that tomorrow I will be able to address promoting green energy, removing obstacles and energy efficiency,” she wrote on Twitter.

UK foreign office minister James Cleverly said he was “deeply disappointed and frustrated” over Elharrar not being able to access the summit yesterday.

London’s ambassador to Israel, Neil Wigan, said: “I apologise deeply and sincerely.”

A source in Bennett’s delegation said he had raised the issue with Johnson ahead of their scheduled meeting today.

The two agreed that Elharrar “will reach the venue with Bennett and participate in the meeting with Johnson”, according to the source.

A UK government source confirmed the minister would join the meeting at 12pm.

Bennett’s office later tweeted video of him arriving with the minister at the venue.

© – AFP, 2021

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