An Israeli cabinet minister who was left unable to attend a climate change conference due to disability access issues on Thursday accepted U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s apology.
Environment Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, who has been wheelchair-bound since an accident in 1999, attempted to attend a United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Poland but was unable to reach the conference center because of access issues and banned seating restrictions.
May tweeted that she “apologizes to Minister Hanegbi that he could not go to the climate conference because of relevant access issues.”
Hanegbi’s immigration difficulties were highlighted by a London-based group which operates as an advocacy group for the disabled.
“Organizers in Poland have banned all sitting or standing areas and all wheelchairs except those belonging to the Israeli delegation,” said the group One Voice.
Hanegbi, who lives with his wife and three children in Jerusalem, told British television channel ITV his “hopes and expectations for climate change are very high,” but he would not take “empty rhetoric at the price of my life.”
He added: “Now the decision stands. I know where I am and I shall sit there.”
Hanegbi and a delegation of Israeli ministry officials were set to lead a delegation of around 25 people to COP26, and were meant to arrive in Poland on Sunday to lobby UN member states for more funding for clean energy in developing countries.
Global climate negotiators will gather in Poland from July 8-18 for talks on measures to fight global warming as well as marking the 20th anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol, the internationally binding pact signed by 195 countries to lower their emissions.
Global warming is likely to cause more frequent heatwaves, droughts, floods and storms, experts say.
It is the second time in six months May has had to issue an apology for blocking a ministerial delegation. Earlier in the year, she had to express regret for a visit by Colombia’s president to London that was delayed by the walkout of Conservative MPs in protest at her Brexit deal.