The speaker of the Israeli parliament has gone on national radio in a bid to defuse a growing scandal about parliamentary dress codes that sparked a protest outside the national assembly.
Following revision of the house’s dress codes, Knesset guards had been turning away women for being inappropriately dressed, mainly for skirt hemlines which were deemed to be too short.
“In recent days visitors and consultants at the Knesset began saying that they were not being allowed in and were humiliated at the entrance because they were arriving in dresses, as they have done every day for years. We have decided to examine what is the Knesset’s dress code. It was apparently changed without informing us. We came here as we do every morning. No-one is trying to provoke, just trying to go to work and we are being stopped because of bare knees,” said parliamentary aide Kessem Rosenblat.
Commentators have noted the row is a symptom of what some identify as an increasing encroachment of religion into public and political life, and an increasingly conservative Jerusalem.
Israel’s parliament is considered one of the most informal in the world, but jeans and open-toed sandals are banned, although rules against these forms of attire and other sartorial lapses have rarely been enforced.