COP26: Israeli energy minister criticises UN after being unable to enter climate change summit in wheelchair

Israel’s energy minster has criticised the UN after she was unable to attend COP26 when the transport offered to her was not wheelchair accessible.

Karine Elharrar told Israeli media that she was given the option of walking on foot for several hundred yards or to board a shuttle which was not wheelchair accessible on Monday.

Speaking to Sky News on Tuesday, the minister said it was a “terrible” day before criticising the UN for preaching on accessibility but not implementing it.

She said: “I was coming to the COP26 in order to promote green energies, in order to promote collaborations between Israel and other counties, and what I was promoting at the end of the day was accessibility.

“I thought it was a very bad example of how the UN was preaching all the years on accessibility and then couldn’t implement it in its own conference.”

Asked if she blamed the British hosts or the UN, Ms Elharrar said: “I think the British hosts have already apologised. I met Prime Minister Johnson this morning and I’ve had some calls from UK ministers and they have admitted that it was a mistake and that they really apologised.

“But they think the primary responsibility is on the UN because the UN is the host of the whole of the event. Its a UN event,” she added.

“Hopefully I won’t encounter any other problems to enter.”

Earlier on Tuesday, COP26 apologised for the incident.

It posted on Twitter: “Regarding minister Elharrar’s experience at the entry point yesterday, this was a genuine mistake and we have apologised for that.

“We are pleased to see her in attendance at COP26 today. COP26 must be inclusive and accessible to all and the venue is designed to facilitate that.”

Mr Johnson met with Ms Elharrar inside the COP26 venue on Tuesday and apologised, saying: “I gather there was some confusion with the arrangements yesterday. I’m very, very sorry about that.”

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly earlier said he was “deeply disappointed and frustrated” that Ms Elharrar could not access COP26.

Environment Secretary George Eustice also apologised, telling BBC Radio 4: “We deeply regret that incident. What would normally happen in this situation is that Israel would have communicated that they had that particular need for their minister.

“There was obviously something that went wrong in this instance and (the organisers) weren’t aware of that and so they hadn’t made the right provisions at the particular entrance she was coming to.”

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