Disabled Israeli minister locked out of COP26 due to inaccessibility

“It is impossible to worry about the future, the climate and sustainability if we do not take care of people.”

By World Israel News Staff

Energy Minister Karin Elharar was unable to enter the complex in which the United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, is taking place because she is wheelchair bound.

The minister has an electric wheelchair and approached multiple entrances but was not allowed to go inside with the chair. After two hours, she turned around and went back to the hotel.

“I went to the International Climate Conference to promote the common fight against the climate crisis through meetings with my counterparts around the world,” Elharar said. “Unfortunately this was not possible due to an accessibility problem, which in 2021 no longer has a place.”

Several Israeli officials took to Twitter to complain about the situation, including Environmental Minister Tamar Zandberg, who said that “the climate conference is designed to save humanity from crisis… The fact that my dear friend, Karin Elharar, was unable to enter the climate conference today due to accessibility barriers is serious and unbearable. I hope that tomorrow this embarrassment will be fixed and Karin will be able to do her job as an Israeli minister.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid also spoke out on Twitter. He said that “it is impossible to worry about the future, the climate and sustainability if we do not take care of people.”

The Ruderman Family Foundation, which focuses on raising awareness of people with disabilities, found out about the incident and sent a statement to the media calling for the UN to conduct a “thorough review of accessibility protocols and capabilities for all of its gatherings, and to implement necessary changes and improvements accordingly, to ensure that today’s disgraceful incident does not repeat itself.”

Israeli media reported that Bennett told Elharar that she could accompany his convoy on Tuesday and he would help ensure she was able to enter the conference.

Elharar is part of a delegation of Israeli leaders who are in Glasgow for the climate conference. Bennett spoke at the event on Monday night.