Israel advances bill aimed at halting prostitution


JERUSALEM — A Knesset committee unanimously approved a bill that would levy severe punishment on consumers of sexual services in Israel.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation advanced the measure to the full Knesset on Sunday; a preliminary vote is scheduled for Wednesday.

Under the bill, first-time offenders are required to attend a class on public health that would include presentations by former prostitutes. Repeat offenders could face six months in prison.

Based on laws that have been enacted in Sweden, Iceland, Norway and most recently in France, the model works on the principle that in order to combat sex trafficking and prostitution, the demand for sexual services must be confronted.

The Kadima Party’s Orit Zuaretz, the chair of the Knesset’s Subcommittee on Trafficking in Women, introduced the bill.

More than 15,000 individuals are estimated to be working in the prostitution industry in Israel, including 5,000 minors.