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Ehud Olmert acknowledged that Israel is a major player in the illegal international trafficking of women for prostitution.

At a Knesset session Monday on the status of women in the Jewish state, the Israeli prime minister said the trafficking of prostitutes is “an industry that involves not only Israeli women, but also women from abroad who are put up for sale. We have become, to my regret, an ‘importer’ in the field because there is demand, and this is difficult to deal with.”

International agencies regularly cite Israel for its relatively high involvement in the trafficking of women, many of whom are brought in by foot from the Egyptian Sinai. Israeli police have been cracking down with some Egyptian help.

Olmert also called for tougher legal action to curb sexual assault, noting that in recent years the number of rape crisis clinics in Israel has doubled to six — “and even that is not enough.”

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