Itae Shaeher speaks fast as he juggles multiple things. Fixing a display that showcases Israel’s innovations in conserving water through the year, blurting instructions to a handful of colleagues setting up furniture, but upfront and centre is a large banner that demands, “Bring them home now,” amidst a bunch of stuffed-toy bears. “These are for the children who are held hostage by Hamas,” said Mr. Shaeher.
The Israel pavilion is one of the pavilions where a country, participating in COP proceedings every year, sets up its exhibits to display its commitment to addressing climate change. At the Israel pavilion, the climate messaging is in the background and the ongoing war is in the centre. “We were at first not planning to participate in this COP. But we decided that we have to use this forum to articulate the terrorism by Hamas,” said Mr. Shaeher.
Israel President Isaac Herzog visited Dubai on Friday where he met several heads of state including Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. He is listed as one of the speakers in the ‘high-level’ segment of the summit, where countries make statements on their climate ambition. On Friday he hadn’t taken the floor until press time.
There is no stall marked out for Palestine, though it isn’t mandatory for every participating country to hire a designated pavilion. However, political voices are finding echoes in deliberations and discussions at the COP-28. “Just 2,500 kilometres away, there is a war going on, where genocide is being committed, and most of the victims are innocent children in Gaza,” said Tasneem Essop, Executive Director of Climate Action Network (CAN). The organization is an association of several civil society groups that calls on fossil fuel companies to immediately halt fossil fuel expansion.
COP-28 is expected to see several world leaders converge on the 1st of December to make statements on climate, but so far there has been no overt reference to the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip.