Israeli minister accepts UK leader’s apology, unable to attend COP26 due to wheelchair accessibility issues


“He [Johnson] Was very kind and very friendly and he apologized. Of course, I accepted and hopefully, it won’t happen again,” Elharer told CNN’s Max Foster during an interview in Glasgow on Tuesday.

When asked who she held responsible for the issue, Elharrar, who suffers from muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, said she did not want to be judged. “I just encountered a problem.”

“Instead of tackling green energy, I promoted access, with cooperation between countries to fight climate change,” she continued.

“I’m not one for apologies. I just wish next time, nothing like that happens.”

Johnson asked Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to invite Elharer to attend a meeting on Tuesday. According to a senior official of the Israeli delegation at the COP, the UK leader personally apologized to Elharer for the incident the previous day.

The official said Elharer went to the COP site in Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s convoy on Tuesday and accompanied him to the conference.

Bennett sharply criticized COP26 organizers for the access issue, and on Tuesday threatened to cancel his appearance at the event.

COP26 President Alok Sharma has repeatedly said that a fully inclusive conference was critical to the success of the Climate Summit.

CNN has reached out to the UK Prime Minister’s Office for comment.

According to an official traveling with Bennett’s delegation in Scotland, Israeli authorities spent two hours trying to get Elharer into the COP site on Monday, but “with it not being fully wheelchair accessible, the efforts were unsuccessful and The minister could not enter.”

Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who is not part of the delegation, tweeted: “Without taking care of people first and foremost, including ensuring access for people with disabilities, it is impossible to protect our future and address the climate crisis. ”

Britain’s ambassador to Tel Aviv, Neil Wigan, immediately apologized.

“I am upset to hear that [Karine Elharrar] Was unable to attend COP26 meetings. I sincerely and wholeheartedly apologize to the Minister. We want a COP Summit that is welcoming and inclusive for all,” he tweeted.

The UN climate change body later apologized for “inconveniences associated with accessing the COP26 venue, both physically and virtually, on Tuesday in an email distributed to COP26 participants.

The UN Climate Change Secretariat said that “COP26 is taking place under extraordinary and unprecedented logistical conditions” and that access to many locations had to be reduced to comply with COVID-19 protocols in maintaining social distancing.

With over 38,000 registered attendees, social distancing has proved difficult at the conference.

An “unprecedented interest” in this particular COP, and the security arrangements of the summit of world leaders, has “added to many military pressures,” the statement continued to explain.

“In many ways, the first few days of COP26 have been a learning process, with participants and staff getting used to the logistical measures and circumstances related to the pandemic, and we are constantly doing our best to learn and adapt. “