COP26 was inaccessible for Israeli minister in wheelchair

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FILE PHOTO: Karine Elharrar, Orna Barbivai and Meir Cohen from the Yesh Atid party arrive for consultations on the formation of a coalition government,

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's energy minister was unable to participate in the United Nation's COP26 summit https://www.reuters.com/business/cop in Glasgow on Monday because the transportation offered to her was not accessible by wheelchair, she said in a TV interview.

Karine Elharrar told Israel's Channel 12 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 for a wheelchair.

"I came to COP26 to meet my counterparts in the world and advance our joint struggle against the climate crisis," Elharrar wrote on Twitter. "It's sad that the United Nations, which promotes accessibility for people with disabilities, in 2021 doesn't worry about accessibility at its own events."

She said she hoped a solution would be found by Tuesday.

Israel's foreign minister called out the conference organizers, saying: "It is impossible to worry about the future, the climate and about people if we do not first take care of human beings, accessibility and disabilities."

The British ambassador to Israel, Neil Wigan, apologized for the mishap.

"I am disturbed to hear that Karine 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 said on Twitter.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by David Holmes)

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