Knesset panel to study attire as guards called off policing skirts
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Knesset panel to study attire as guards called off policing skirts

House speaker meets with MKs, sides agree enforcement of dress rules will be relaxed so long as Knesset workers act with ‘common sense’

Knesset staffers protest against the dress code in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem, December 14, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Knesset staffers protest against the dress code in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem, December 14, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein will establish a committee to look at the parliament’s dress code, after an outcry over parliamentary aides being stopped for skirts deemed too short turned into a full fledged protest Wednesday.

A Knesset spokesperson said the committee will be made up of elected Knesset members and parliamentary workers who will work to establish a precise dress code for the building.

At the same time Edelstein ordered Knesset guards to relax the rules on acceptable attire and not turn away people based on skirt length, until the panel makes it recommendation.

The decision came after MKs agreed to speak to their aides and request that they act with “common sense,” Edelstein’s spokesman told the Times of Israel.

On Wednesday morning over 30 parliamentary aides tried to enter the building wearing miniskirts and short dresses in protest of a recently revised dress code.

Knesset staffers protest against the dress code in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem, December 14, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Knesset staffers protest against the dress code in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem, December 14, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The demonstration came after several workers were detained over the length of their skirts, sparking anger among Knesset members and others, some of whom accused the guards of acting as religious modesty police.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein attends a conference on the Temple Mount, held at the Israeli parliament on November 07, 2016.(Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.(Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

The decision to form the panel came after Edelstein met with lawmakers over the issue.

The meeting was attended by Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli; Yael German, Karine Elharar and Aliza Lavie of Yesh Atid; Kulanu’s Rachel Azaria, Joint (Arab) List Aida Touma-Sliman and Dov Khenin; Meretz’s Ilan Gilon; Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin and Manuel Trajtenberg of the Zionist Union along with Knesset CEO Albert Sacharovich.

Trajtenberg on Wednesday stripped down to his undershirt as he entered the Knesset to protest the rules.

“All of the MKs who participated in the meeting stressed clearly the need to have a dress code,” Edelstein’s spokesperson said, “one which will respect all those who visit the building and which will ensure respect for the Knesset.”

There is no word yet as to who will be on the new committee or what percentage will be women.

In November, the Knesset issued a revised dress code for employees and visitors, banning miniskirts and short dresses. The new conditions apply to all employees including custodians, parliamentary assistants, permanent employees, students and interns.

Shaked Hasson, assitant to MK Merav Michaeli, wearing the dress and leggings which were deemed inappropriate for the Knesset (Courtesy)
Shaked Hasson, assitant to MK Merav Michaeli, wearing the dress and leggings which were deemed inappropriate for the Knesset (Courtesy)

The protest erupted on Monday, after Shaked Hasson, an aide to Michaeli, said that she was checked by security forces and held for breaching the new guidelines. A day later it emerged that a second aide, Moria Silfen, who works for MK Eli Alaluf (Kulanu), had also been detained at the entrance to the Knesset and told by guards that she could not enter on account of her outfit.

The protest was organized by the unofficial union of parliamentary aides in response to the revised rules.

“Entrance to the Knesset is permitted only in appropriate attire (no tank/spaghetti tops, cropped tops, shorts or three-quarter length trousers, ripped trousers, shirts with political slogans, short skirts and short dresses, flip-flops or open-back clogs). These rules apply to adults and youth aged 14 and over, ” a notice on the Knesset website reads.

After several parliamentary aides were turned away, MK Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union) tweeted two photos of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein’s wife Irina Nevzlin wearing skirts that would not have been deemed acceptable to the Knesset Guard. She later deleted the tweet.

Knesset spokesperson Yotam Yakir said earlier in the week that the code had nothing to do with “modesty,” a term often used to denote dress deemed appropriate by religious authorities, but rather having professionally acceptable attire.

“Having a dress code to enter the Knesset is normal practice and [similar codes] apply in parliaments all around the world,” he said.

Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.

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