Miniskirts, but No Shorts? Knesset Ethics Committee Debates MKs' Attire

A parliament in sandals. The committee that recently met to draft an ethical code for the Knesset devoted special attention to the subject of sandals. Likud party faction chairman Gideon Sa'ar asked whether wearing sandals was accepted practice in other parliaments.

"Yes," replied former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud). "In Yemen."

Sa'ar said, "In this respect, I wouldn't consider Yemen a role model."

Deputy Knesset Speaker Ahmed Tibi (Ra'am-Ta'al): "Sandals are more accepted in the United Arab Emirates."

A coalition for sandals. Labor MK Shelly Yachimovitz said the so-called "biblical" sandals were representative of Israeli culture and were therefore more acceptable "than luxury brand shoes manufactured by children in a sweatshop in China." Chairman of the Knesset Ethics Committee Haim Oron (Meretz) described his personal dress code to the assembled panel: When the plenum is in session, he wears shoes; on other days, he wears sandals. Some say chairman of the National Union faction, Uri Ariel, wears sandals to the Knesset even during the winter.

Appropriate dress. Paragraph 11 of the draft of the new Knesset ethical code states: "Knesset members will appear in the Knesset building in clothing that speaks to the dignity of the parliament and the dignity of its members." An argument broke out yesterday among the committee members as to whether this paragraph was necessary. Israel's best parliamentarians - those who take pains to be present at ethical code meetings - participated in the discussion. Kadima MK Amira Dotan claimed that the paragraph relating to a dress code should be erased, because its very existence "embarrasses and humiliates me." Sa'ar responded that a dress code existed in various parliaments around the world.

Miniskirts and shorts. Aside from sandals, different types of clothing were raised during the discussion. Yachimovitz asked whether flip-flops would be acceptable. Ahmed Tibi, who supports the paragraph on a dress code, asked sarcastically: "Why should people who enjoy sports not come in shorts?" Yachimovitz said: "Really, why not? A miniskirt, yes. But shorts, no?" For his part, Tibi proposed that MKs should wear neither leather nor fur coats, because these are manufactured from animal skins.

And what about Ciccolina? In the previous Knesset, certain female MKs wore tight and revealing clothing. "In the previous Knesset, the clothes were shameless. We witnessed cases in which people came with exposed bellies," Rivlin said. "Ciccolina [a former Italian MP who was also a porn star] has not yet visited the Knesset, but I'm telling you the day has come when there could be plenty of Ciccolinas here."

The kibbutznik and the settler. Special attention was devoted to the appearance of two Knesset members: Haim Oron, the kibbutznik, and Uri Ariel, the settler. Yachimovitz pointed out: "There are perhaps parliaments where they would have thrown Jumas [Oron] out because of his shirt, but we will not get rid of Jumas." "But this is my best shirt," retorted Oron. Yachimovitz said she also likes the settler-type clothing worn by Uri Ariel - sandals, jeans and a simple shirt. Ariel asked whether it was possible to hold a vote about this remark.