COP26: Boris Johnson apologises to Israeli minister over lack of wheelchair accessibility at summit

Israel's Energy Minister Karine Elharrar waits for the start of a meeting on the sidelines of the Cop26 summit at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow.
Israel's Energy Minister Karine Elharrar waits for the start of a meeting on the sidelines of the Cop26 summit at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow.

Israel energy minister Karine Elharrar criticised organisers of the global conference on Twitter after failing to get access to the campus on its opening day

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Boris Johnson has apologised to an Israeli government minister after she could not attend the summit on Monday due to a lack of wheelchair accessibility.

Karine Elharrar, minister of energy, criticised organisers of the global conference on Twitter after failing to get access to the campus on its opening day.

She wrote: “To Cop26 I came to meet with my counterparts around the world and promote a joint fight against the climate crisis.

“It is sad that the UN, which promotes accessibility for people with disabilities, in 2021, does not take care of accessibility at its events.

“I hope that the lessons required to be learned tomorrow to promote green energies, remove barriers and energy efficiency will be the things I deal with.”

The minister told Israel’s Channel 12 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 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.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) is introduced to Israel's Energy Minister Karine Elharrar (third left), ahead of a bilateral meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during the Cop26 summit at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) is introduced to Israel's Energy Minister Karine Elharrar (third left), ahead of a bilateral meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during the Cop26 summit at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow.

Mr Johnson met with Ms Elharrar inside the Cop26 venue on Tuesday and apologised.

He said: “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.