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Israeli minister unable to attend COP26 due to wheelchair access problems accepts apology from UK leader

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“He [Johnson] he was very kind and very kind and apologized. Of course, I accepted and I hope it doesn’t happen again, ”Elharrar told CNN’s Max Foster during an interview in Glasgow on Tuesday.

When asked who he thought was responsible for the problem, Elharrar, who suffers from muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, said he did not want to judge. “I just found a problem.”

“Instead of dealing with green energy, with collaborations between countries to fight climate change, I promoted accessibility,” he continued.

“I’m not in favor of apologies. I just want nothing like that to happen next time.”

Johnson asked Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to invite Elharrar to join them at a meeting Tuesday. The UK leader personally apologized to Elharrar over the previous day’s incident, according to a senior Israeli delegation official at the COP.

Elharrar traveled to the COP site on Tuesday in the caravan of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and accompanied him to the conference, the official said.

Bennett harshly criticized COP26 organizers for the access issue and had threatened to cancel his appearance at the event on Tuesday.

COP26 President Alok Sharma has repeatedly said that a fully inclusive conference was key to the success of the climate conference.

CNN has contacted the office of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to comment.

According to an official traveling with Bennett’s delegation to Scotland, Israeli officials spent two hours trying to get Elharrar to enter the COP site on Monday, but “as he was not fully wheelchair accessible, the efforts were unsuccessful. and the minister could not enter. ”

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who is not part of the delegation, tweeted: “It is impossible to safeguard our future and tackle the climate crisis without first taking care of the people, including the security of the people. ‘accessibility for people with disabilities’.

The British ambassador to Tel Aviv, Neil Wigan, hurried to apologize.

“It bothers me to hear that [Karine Elharrar] he was unable to attend COP26 meetings. I deeply and sincerely apologize to the Minister. We want a COP summit that is welcoming and inclusive for everyone, “he tweeted.

The United Nations Climate Change Agency later apologized for “the inconvenience associated with accessing the COP26 site, both physically and virtually, in an email distributed to COP26 participants on Tuesday.

The UN Secretariat for Climate Change added that “COP26 is taking place in exceptional and unprecedented logistical circumstances” and that access to many areas has had to be reduced to comply with Covid protocols. 19 in maintaining social distancing.

With more than 38,000 registered attendees, social distancing at the conference has proved difficult.

An “unprecedented interest” in this particular COP, and the security arrangements for the World Leaders’ Summit, “have added to the many logistical pressures,” the statement continued.

“In many ways, the first days of COP26 have been a learning process, with participants and staff getting used to the logistical measures and circumstances related to the pandemic, and we are doing our best to learn and adapt. us continuously “.

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