Gilad Noam to be next Israeli deputy A-G for international relations

The deputy A-G will be responsible for handling war crimes issues with the ICC.

 The International Criminal Court building is seen in The Hague, Netherlands, January 16, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW)
The International Criminal Court building is seen in The Hague, Netherlands, January 16, 2019.
(photo credit: REUTERS/PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW)

A government committee on Wednesday appointed Dr. Gilad Noam as the next powerful Deputy Attorney-General for International Affairs, with responsibility for handling International Criminal Court (ICC) war crimes controversies.

Noam, 48, has served in the Justice Ministry International Law Division since 2012 and was most directly involved in informal contacts with the ICC over war crimes issues.

He also previously served in IDF intelligence unit 8200 and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar said that his experience in defending Israel’s legitimacy would be a huge advantage.

The ICC has been focused on Israel since January 2015 and opened a full criminal war crimes probe last year.

Noam may have surprised some, beating out stiff competition from Col. (res.) Eran Shamir-Borer and Col. (res.) Noam Neuman, two previous chiefs of the IDF’s international law division.

Shamir-Borer headed the IDF international law division until January and served in the division for most of the time dating back to 1998. He took a break to earn his doctorate in international law from NYU law school and returned to the IDF over a decade ago.

View of Israel's Justice Ministry, containing the Attorney-General's Office, in Jerusalem on March 20, 2018. (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)View of Israel's Justice Ministry, containing the Attorney-General's Office, in Jerusalem on March 20, 2018. (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)

The former IDF international law division chief’s major event during his term was trying to employ creative rules of engagement during the 2018 Gaza border crisis.

For example, he approved firing at rioter-protesters knees in certain circumstances if they got too close to the Gaza border wall, even if the threat they presented was still more potential than immediate.

The High Court of Justice approved these rules, but human rights groups said they violated international law standards requiring a situation of immediate danger before using lethal force.

Neuman was Shamir-Borer’s predecessor as IDF international law division chief, including handling legal issues related to the 2014 Gaza War. He served in the IDF for 23 years before joining the Justice Ministry’s International Law Division some five years ago, focusing on war-related issues.

Both Shamir-Borer and Neuman were regarded as extremely bright, but Noam had impressive academic credentials, had served longer in the ministry and has excellent contacts at the ICC.

Replacement

Noam replaces Roy Schondorf, who has held the position for over eight years and who followed a similar path as Shamir-Borer, serving in the IDF international law division and then earning a doctorate from NYU.

Schondorf was credited for establishing a broader department to handle ICC and other war crimes issues, and holding much of them at bay, at least until last year.

Separately, the same committee has selected former IDF military advocate general Maj.-Gen. (res.) Sharon Afek as the top deputy attorney-general to assist Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara supervise her other deputies.

Afek took the position after being passed over for Baharav-Miara’s job as well as for a position on the Supreme Court.

He is known as a formidable personality and his views are expected to reverberate throughout the corridors of the Justice Ministry.

The committee comprised Baharav-Miara, Civil Service Commission Head Daniel Hershkovitz, Justice Ministry Director-General Eran Davidi, Prime Minister’s Office Legal Adviser Shlomit Fargo-Barnea and Reichman University Diplomacy academic and former Justice Ministry international affairs chief, Shavit Mathias.