The Prohibition of Consumption of Prostitution Services Bill passed its second and third (final) readings in the Knesset plenum today.

Under the terms of the bill, first-time offending johns would be fined NIS 2,000 (raised from NIS 1,500 by the committee in order to increase deterrence), with the penalty increasing to NIS 4,000 for those who repeat the offense within three years. Courts would be empowered to raise the fines to a maximum of NIS 75,300. The legislation also offers the Justice Ministry the option of instituting other punishments, such as “John Schools,” meant to educate those who paid for sex. The prosecution of offenders will be possible in certain cases.

“Years of hard work have come to a conclusion today,” MK Moalem-Refaeli said. “The State of Israel made today a moral and historic decision in which we condemn prostitution and act to rehabilitate women, men and teenagers who have found themselves in the cycle of this industry of cruel exploitation.”

The legislation, Moalem-Refaeli argued, will significantly reduce the scope of prostitution in Israel.

MK Lavie said the law will lead to a “dramatic change” and called its passage an “exciting, moral and defining moment which defines the State of Israel as a society – who we are and what our values are.”

“Israel joins a host of nations which made it clear that the consumption of prostitution is an immoral norm with devastating consequences,” she added.

The bill, submitted as a temporary order for five years, will go into effect a year and a half after it is passed into law in order to give law enforcement agencies ample time to prepare for its implementation, and to expand the rehabilitation programs for prostitutes.

The explanatory notes accompanying the bill state that “Over the past few years, there is a growing recognition in Israel that the prostitution industry embodies very hurtful characteristics and that it must be diminished through rehabilitation, [informing the public], education and enforcement.”

The bill passed by a vote of 34-0.