Female reporters accompanying President Donald Trump on his trip to the Middle East have been separated from their male colleagues and the President during his historic visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Men and women aren’t allowed to pray together at the Wall and a small barrier separates the two genders in accordance to Orthodox Jewish tradition. The women reporters were unable to hear the conversations Mr Trump was having but saw him speaking to a rabbi quietly as he approached the Wall. Photos of the event didn’t show any male reporters in close proximity to the President during the visit.
We were “technically on the female side of the Wall, separated from the male press pool by a small, low barrier that we could look over,” a female Politico reporter wrote in a report distributed by the White House press pool.
The separation of genders at the Western Wall has been a hotly contested issue. Women of the Wall, a group that campaigns for equal prayer rights, has protested the separation for nearly 30 years. A temporary mixed-gender area was approved in 2013, and a permanent solution was approved last year by the Israeli cabinet. It is unclear when that plan will be implemented.
This is at least the second time during Mr Trump’s visit to the Middle East that women reporters have been excluded or limited in their access to events attended by Trump officials. Two female reporters covering an event headlined by Ivanka Trump in Saudi Arabia to discuss women’s empowerment were not allowed to stay past introductory remarks over the weekend. That country requires women to cover themselves from head to toe in public, requires women to request permission from a “male guardian” to leave their homes, and does not allow women to drive.
Ms Trump and First Lady Melania Trump did not wear headscarves during their visit, which follows in the tradition of other presidential spouses on visits to the country.