Bennett to meet with British, French, Indian leaders at UN climate conference

Prime minister not slated to sit with Biden; is expected to address confab on Monday

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett boards a plane at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington, DC, on August 29, 2021. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett boards a plane at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington, DC, on August 29, 2021. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is slated to meet with a slate of world leaders next week at the United Nations COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, his office announced Thursday evening.

He will hold meetings with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The meetings will be Bennett’s first with the leaders as premier.

Bennett will also meet with Bahraini Prime Minister and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Italian Premier Mario Draghi, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, and UN Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Bennett is not scheduled to meet with United States President Joe Biden at this time. His office told The Times of Israel that no request was made for a meeting with the US leader.

Bennett will take off from Ben Gurion Airport at 4:50 p.m. on Sunday, landing in Scotland six hours later. The next day, he will address the conference and present his government’s approach to climate change.

He will also take part in the opening ceremony of the conference, as well as the reception held by British Crown Prince Charles.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) greet guests at a reception for the Global Investment Summit in Windsor Castle, Windsor, England, on October 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool)

Bennett was invited to attend by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson when the two spoke in July, shortly after the formation of Israel’s current government.

Israel will be represented at the talks by a delegation of 120 people drawn from the Knesset, government ministries, civil society, academia, the business sector, and local government. The summit runs from October 31 to November 12.

The delegation will include the ministers of energy and environmental protection.

The business section of the delegation will be led by Nitzan Moshe of Israel Chemicals Ltd.

Last Wednesday, President Isaac Herzog announced the establishment of the Israeli Climate Forum, which will operate under the auspices of the President’s Office and be headed by veteran environmental activist and former Hadash MK Dov Khenin, in cooperation with Haim v’Sviva (“Life and Environment”), the umbrella organization of Israeli environmental groups.

Environment Minister Tamar Zandberg (right), and Energy Minister Karin Elharrar (lleft). (Flash90)

Two days earlier, Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg and Energy Minister Karine Elharrar presented a national implementation plan to deal with the climate crisis, put together by 14 ministries.

Zandberg has vowed to make the passing of a climate bill her first priority when she returns from Scotland. Such a bill was drafted in April but has been held up by Energy Ministry and Finance Ministry objections.

Bennett’s trip will take place as the government arrives at the final stretch to pass the state budget ahead of a November 14 deadline.

Failure to approve the funds for 2021-2022 by that date would automatically dissolve parliament and trigger elections. The budget includes, for the first time, a special allocation to fight climate change.

The UN’s 26th Climate Change Conference of the Parties, known as the COP26, will see governments try to thrash out further commitments to limit the warming of the Earth to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 degrees Fahrenheit) as laid out in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

Sue Surkes contributed to this report. 

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