Gov't approves Baharav-Miara as next A-G - first woman in the post

Baharav-Miara is a private-sector lawyer at Tadmor-Levy & Co., but worked for over three decades in the Justice Ministry.

  Gali Baharav-Miara  (photo credit: TOMER YAKOVSON)
Gali Baharav-Miara
(photo credit: TOMER YAKOVSON)

The government on Monday approved former top Justice Ministry official Gali Baharav-Miara as the next attorney-general, replacing Avichai Mandelblit. She is the first woman to serve in the post.

Her appointment came after a recommendation from Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar and her approval, along with two other candidates, by the attorney-general selection committee last week.

“It is fitting to appoint a woman for the job for the first time in the state’s history,” Sa’ar said last week. “But I am not recommending appointing lawyer Baharav-Miara for this reason, but because she is the best and most fitting candidate and also has the most diverse and rich professional managerial experience.”

In a not-so-veiled reference to some of the other lead candidates over whom she was chosen, he said: “She made her way not in boardroom meetings, but out ‘in the field,’ truly representing the different parts of the government.”

Some of the other top candidates were deputy attorneys-general, but they spent less of their careers in courtrooms.

 Outgoing Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit at his retirement ceremony, February 1, 2022.  (credit: DAVID WEIL/GPO) Outgoing Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit at his retirement ceremony, February 1, 2022. (credit: DAVID WEIL/GPO)

Baharav-Miara is a private-sector lawyer at Tadmor-Levy & Co. She worked for more than three decades in the Justice Ministry, including from 2006-2015, heading the more than 200-person Tel Aviv Civil Division, the largest civil division in the country.

During that time, she handled the full range of civil issues, including labor disputes, land issues and defending against West Bank Palestinian civil lawsuits brought against the State of Israel.

Since 2015, she was asked by the Justice Ministry and Defense Minister Benny Gantz in 2018 to write a legal brief on his behalf to defend against a war-crimes case in the Netherlands national court system.

In May 2019, she signed on to a public statement along with other top former Justice Ministry officials opposing initiatives to grant the Knesset an override of the Supreme Court or to grant then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu immunity from prosecution based on his being head of the government.

Besides handling major cases in the private sector, since 2015, she has served on a number of state commissions.

During her army service, from 1978-1980, she served in IDF Intelligence.

She is married to Zion Miara, who in the past served in the defense establishment and now has ALS.

Baharav-Miara has three children and lives in Givatayim.

Last week, the race to replace Mandelblit as attorney-general had entered the final stretch, with the selection committee narrowing the list to three candidates for Sa’ar and the cabinet to choose from.

The three candidates were Baharav-Miara, Deputy Attorney-General for International Affairs Roy Schondorf and Defense Ministry chief lawyer Itai Ofir.

Normally, the prime minister informally has de facto veto power, but with the split of powers within the coalition, Sa’ar’s preference was even more decisive than the formal power he is already given as the intermediary between the committee and the cabinet.

For an extended period, Sa’ar’s preference reportedly had been Baharav-Miara. In a surprise, Deputy Attorney-General Raz Nizri, who had been at the top of the list recommended by Sa’ar along with Baharav-Miara on December 13, was left off the final list.

Following Sa’ar’s recommendation last week, Nizri announced he would quit his post, ending a distinguished career as the go-to deputy for Mandelblit and his predecessor, Yehuda Weinstein.

Along with those candidates, others who made it to the second-to-last round included District Court Judge Michal Agmon-Gonen, Prof. Ariel Bendor, Dr. Aviad Bakshi, former Knesset chief legal adviser Eyal Yinon and Hebrew University of Jerusalem rector Barak Medina.

Former conservative chief justice Asher Grunis chaired the committee, which also included conservative New Hope MK Zvi Hauser and moderate-conservative former justice minister Dan Meridor.

The other two members on the panel were Israel Bar Association representative Tami Olman and academic representative Ron Shapira. Olman is not known as being particularly conservative and has battled to defend the judiciary from attacks by former justice minister Amir Ohana.

Sa’ar previously appointed State Attorney Amit Aisman, who is not a candidate to receive the role permanently, on a temporary basis to fill Mandelblit’s shoes starting last Tuesday and until this week.

Sa’ar is seeking to split the powers of the attorney-general into two separate positions. It is unclear if he has the votes in the Knesset to split the position since virtually all former attorneys-general, the Supreme Court and left-wing parties in the coalition are expected to oppose such a split.

Former state attorney Shai Nitzan has suggested multiple models in which the attorney-general could voluntarily yield some of his powers of prosecuting top ministers to the state attorney without formal legislation.

Baharav-Miara is expected to support Sa’ar on this and other major policy issues.

Though Baharav-Miara was quite senior in the Justice Ministry, there are at least a few Justice Ministry officials who have had higher national profiles.

Schondorf will continue in his post until at least April.

It was unknown if the latest developments will impact Ofir’s future career status at the Defense Ministry.