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Controversial Knesset Dress Code Eases Up in Wake Up Protests

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Israeli parliamentary aides protest the new dress code at Knesset, December 14, 2016.
Israeli parliamentary aides protest the new dress code at Knesset, December 14, 2016.Credit: Emil Salman

The controversial Knesset dress code will remain in place, but a new system for enforcing it will be established, a committee of lawmakers and parliamentary staff concluded on Tuesday.

Under the new measures, staff will be given at least two warnings about “inappropriate” attire before they are prevented from entering the building. The third time an employee shows up dressed inappropriately, the Knesset Guard will not allow them to enter.

In October, Knesset Director General Albert Sakharovich decided to enforce the existing dress code, which prohibits coming to work in “inappropriate dress such as: tank tops, shorts, short skirts and dresses, flip-flops and the like.” It also forbids wearing clothing with a political statement.

However, the guidelines don’t specify the appropriate length for a short dress; the issue is open to interpretation. In December, a number of parliamentary aides were prevented from entering the building after the guards said the skirts they were wearing were too short. Shortly later, 40 Knesset staffers deliberately wore short dresses and skirts to protest the delays their peers encountered while trying to enter the building.

Now the committee has decided that only very short hemlines, such as miniskirts, would be defined as inappropriate. In addition to the mandatory dress code, the Knesset will soon prepare a recommended dress code, as exists in many other parliaments around the world.

Sakharovich said he was pleased about the agreement reached and about the fact that there was no disagreement about the need to maintain proper dress standards in the Knesset, similar to what is customary in other parliaments.

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