GLASGOW – Energy Minister Karine Elharrar, a member of the Israeli delegation to the United Nations' climate summit in Glasgow, was not able to join the talks on Monday because the transportation offered to her was not wheelchair-accessible.
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Elharrar could not find another way of reaching the summit and returned to her hotel in Edinburgh.
"I flew to the climate summit to take part in the fight against climate change by meeting [other energy ministers] from around the world," the minister said in a statement.
"Unfortunately, this wasn't possible because of accessibility issues, which don't have a place in the year 2021. I'm hopeful that lessons from today will be learned so that tomorrow I can take part in advancing green energy, removing obstacles, and energy efficiency."
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Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, the chairman of Elharrar's Yesh Atid party, tweeted: "A note to the organizers of the climate summit in Glasgow: It's not possible to take care of the future, the climate, sustainability if we don't first take care of people, accessibility and people with disabilities. I send my regards from here to our excellent energy minister for her work on the environment and renewable energies."
The United Kingdom's ambassador to Israel, Neil Wigan, tweeted: "I am disturbed that [Elharrar] was unable to attend meetings at #COP26. I apologise deeply and sincerely to the Minister. We want a COP summit that is welcoming and inclusive to everyone."
Wigan spoke to Israel's Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely and apologized for the incident. He stressed measures will be taken to ensure Elharrar's participation.
British officials also said they see the incident as grave, vowing to prevent it from recurring.