Women journalists protest separation at Western Wall for Pence visit

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The holy site has long seen controversy over the separation between women and men. It is now administered by the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which follows the tradition of separating men and women during prayer.

"I feel like a second-class citizen", Tal Schneider, a journalist with Israeli paper Globes, told AFP.

After complaints, a tarp covering the podium was removed, allowing women to stand on chairs to be able to see over male journalists.

The different Palestinian bodies accused the United States of helping Israel in "forging" the history of the holy city and "stealing the history of Palestine", with full disrespect to the global resolutions regarding Jerusalem and Palestine. "In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem - and that United States Embassy will open before the end of next year", Pence said in a speech to the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem.

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Pence spokesperson Alyssa Farah issued a statement in response to the incident, saying "every effort was made to accommodate both female and male journalists while observing the rules in place at the Western Wall", while the Western Wall Heritage Foundation told Israel's Channel 10 that its efforts were to offer "maximum accessibility" for journalists covering the event. They were led to a fenced off area behind their male colleagues, which obstructed their vantage point and prompted many to take to the social media with the hashtag #PenceFence.

The trip, which coincided withVice President Mike Pence's three-day visit to Israel, was part of a larger effort to circumvent the USA, the traditional broker of PA-Israel negotiations, and push to have the European Union take a more active role in the Middle East.

But Tovah Lazaroff, deputy managing editor for the Jerusalem Post, said that male journalists received similar "preferential treatment" when U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley visited the Western Wall in June.

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