Knesset won’t revise dress code, short skirts still out
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Knesset won’t revise dress code, short skirts still out

Violators will now be given warnings before guards deny them entry to Israel’s parliament

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

The Knesset announced on Tuesday that it will not make any changes to the parliamentary dress code, which had come under fire two months ago after a number of female aides were denied entry to the building for wearing dresses deemed “too short.”

Although the current prohibitions on various clothing items and the rules governing the length of dresses and skirts will remain unchanged, Knesset Spokesman Yotam Yakir said in a statement that a new “enforcement mechanism” will be introduced that will “include the issuing of warnings prior to the denial of entry to the premises.”

The decision to leave the current regulations intact, while altering the enforcement process, was reached by a committee composed of elected Knesset members and parliamentary workers, who were appointed by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to resolve the issue.

Edelstein’s decision to review the Knesset’s rules on dress was prompted by a protest in December, in which over 30 parliamentary aides tried to enter the building wearing miniskirts and short dresses. That protest was directed at revisions introduced to the dress code a month before that led to several female employees being turned away from the parliament over their skirt length.

While most of the aides were eventually allowed in during the demonstration, with some having brought a change of clothing in advance, four were denied entry altogether.

In one dramatic show of solidarity, Zionist Union MK Manuel Trajtenberg removed his jacket and shirt and tried to enter wearing just an undershirt and trousers. “Tomorrow you will all be wearing burqas,” he shouted to the protesters.

Following the protest, Edelstein ordered Knesset guards to relax the rules on acceptable attire and not turn away employees based on skirt length until the panel made its final recommendation.

In November, the Knesset issued revised regulations on appropriate attire for employees and visitors, which banned “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” for “adults and youth aged 14 and over,” according to a notice on the Knesset website.

Yakir told The Times of Israel at the time that the new guidance is “not a new code but, rather, a revision of a previous dress code,” which he said “is intended to clarify, as much as possible, the ambiguity that existed in the past.”

Under the rules, Knesset guards may only enforce violations committed by their own gender.

Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.

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