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Israeli minister in wheelchair gains access to COP26 a day late

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By Reuters
Israeli minister in wheelchair gains access to COP26 a day late
Israeli minister in wheelchair gains access to COP26 a day late   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

JERUSALEM – Using wheelchair access now in place and with Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at her side, the country’s energy minister made a delayed entrance on Tuesday to the United Nation’s COP26 summit in Glasgow.

The minister, Karine Elharrar, said on Monday she was sad that she could not reach the conference grounds because the only options to get there from the gathering area were to walk or board a shuttle that was not suited to her wheelchair.

The lack of accessibility drew apologies from Britain’s ambassador to Israel and British Environment Secretary George Eustice, who suggested in a BBC interview that Israel may not have made the hosts aware of Elharrar’s particular needs in advance.

But the spokesman for Israel’s embassy in Britain said the mission had “communicated all of the necessary details to everyone concerned, as required, over the past several weeks”.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office released a video clip showing Elharrar, who has muscular dystrophy, arriving at the venue in a wheelchair-accessible taxi on Tuesday.

“How are you?” Bennett asked her after she disembarked. Gesturing towards the taxi, he told her: “It will be exactly the same thing tomorrow … let’s go in.”

“The message is also terribly important,” Bennett added, apparently referring to a need to promote the right of accessibility for people with disabilities.