|Former Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Justice
Emi Palmor (Hebrew: אמי פלמור; born August 1966) is an Israeli lawyer and senior civil servant who served as the Director General of the Ministry of Justice from 1 February 2014 to September 2019. During her 24 years of civil service, she was appointed time and again by the government to Chair public committees concerning sensitive and controversial social and legal issues in Israeli society, which she led to sustainable resolutions. Palmor is recognized for applying methods of civic engagement and participation in Government processes of policy design, and for promoting a wholistic approach to public policy, focusing on prevention and education plans rather than legislation and law enforcement. Palmor is one of the first 20 members of the Facebook Oversight Board.
Palmor was born in Jerusalem to Holocaust survivor parents who immigrated from Romania to Israel in 1960. Her father, Eliezer, served as a diplomat at the Israeli embassies in Belgium, Norway, Argentina, Uruguay and France. Her mother, Shoshana, a concentration camp survivor from Transnistria, was a chemist and worked in a drug factory. Palmor's first name, Emi, consists of the first letters of the names of her grandmother Esther and her great grandmother Michal, who perished both in the Holocaust.
She did her military service in Unit 8200 of the Israeli Intelligence Corps, between the years 1984–1986. In 1990, Palmor graduated law school from the Hebrew University and interned with Supreme court Judge Zvi Tal in the Jerusalem District Court and with Yair Golan (in the criminal field). Her brother, Yigal Palmor, is a spokesman for the Jewish Agency, who previously served as a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
From 1991 to 1996, Palmor worked as a lawyer in the field of Civil Law at the law firm of Carmeli-Arnon in Jerusalem and was accepted as a partner in the firm in 1995. From 1996 to 1999, she served as a prosecutor at the State Attorney's Office Supreme Court Department in the Ministry of Justice and conducted legal proceedings in the criminal field. In 2000, Palmor was appointed Director of the Pardons department at the Ministry of Justice, a position she held for 14 years, during which she was credited with preparing the Minister of Justice's recommendation to the President.
Furthermore, Palmor served on behalf of the Minister of Justice on special missions related to locating missing IDF soldiers. She was a member of the committee that dealt with the release of security prisoners to the Palestinian Authority, and through the years 2006–2011 was the only female member of the negotiation team for the release of POW a Gilad Shalit.
Palmor held in addition to her role as Director of the Pardons Department the following positions:
On 1 February 2014, Palmor was appointed Director General of the Ministry of Justice in place of Dr. Guy Rothkopf, after being selected by the government at the suggestion of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. Palmor's appointment was a non-political appointment, as she came from the civil service itself. She continued to serve as a non-political Director General after Ayelet Shaked was appointed Minister of Justice in May 2015.
Upon taking office and under her leadership she emphasized the role and mission of the Ministry of Justice as a social service-providing ministry, advancing equality and developing better and innovative access to justice alongside its traditional roles. She led a series of organizational reforms and established new departments, units and tribunals, while developing legal services and digital platforms.
On 23 July 2019, it was surprisingly announced that Palmor would end her position as director general of the Ministry of Justice. The temporary Justice Minister, Amir Ohana, has chosen to replace Palmor over Ophir Cohen, a close friend of him. Since Ohana was only a temporary appointment, it was considered a controversial decision, as this position was usually left in place as part of the professional staff of a ministry. Palmor's dismissal drew widespread criticism and the High Court of Justice has put a temporary freeze on the appointment. Eventually, Palmor ended her tenure and on September.
During her tenure, Palmor initiated, led, and implemented numerous important reforms in the Ministry of Justice, the justice system, and the entire government:
Palmor is considered a pioneer in the field of occupational diversity in the entire government. She was the first director general to publish a transparent and detailed annual report on the degree of occupational diversity in the Ministry, which was later adopted by President Reuven Rivlin and other Ministries. She developed methods of recruitment and training as well as educational programs for organizations to promote a work environment that encourages diversity and inclusion for Arabs, Israelis of Ethiopian descent, Ultra-Orthodox Jews, Women, and people with disabilities, all poorly represented in the Civil Service. Palmor's initiatives and dedication to the subject have made her a National figure identified with occupational diversity moves and a sought-after spokesperson and lecturer on the subject throughout the government and the Business sector as well. On the 68th Independence Day of the State of Israel, she was selected by the Israel Democracy Institute to light an "alternative torch" for her unique contribution to the public trust in the public service by relentlessly promoting diversity of the Civil Service. In December 2019, she received the "Shared Society Award" by The Abraham Initiatives NGO in recognition of her longstanding contribution to advancing equality, understanding, and co-existence between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel, advocating against racism and exclusion, for integrating and representing Arab citizens in the civil service and establishing the Anti-Racism coordination Unit in the government.
In October 2018 Palmor was first to initiate and publish a work-life balance convention in the Ministry of Justice, which limits contact hours with employees and allows for occupational flexibility, thus reducing employee's burnout, and advancing equality and improving opportunities for women and young parents in the workplace.
Additional positions she held during her tenure as Director General of the Ministry of Justice:
During her tenure, Palmor was appointed to head several public committees designated to deal with burning social issues on the government's agenda, including the Committee on The Eradication Of Racism against Israelis of Ethiopian Descent (2016), The Committee for Examination of Tools to Reduce Demand for Prostitution (2017), and the committee in charge of resolving the Negative Consequences of Polygamy (2017).
In February 2016, Palmor was appointed to head the committee on the Eradication of racism against Israelis of Ethiopian Descent by the Ministerial Committee for the Promotion of the integration of Israeli Citizens of Ethiopian origin into Israeli Society, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The concluding report of the team (known as the "Palmor Report") was submitted in August 2016 and included an overview and reflection of the significant events experienced by Ethiopian Jews as manifestations of racism and discrimination, and is considered a historical milestone in Israel. The team led by Palmor presented more than 50 recommendations, which were adopted and budgeted by the government, and most of them were fully implemented. This was the first time the State recognized the existence of institutional racism against Ethiopian Jews, acknowledged policing and controversial policies on matters of education, health treatment, and other issues. Further, The Palmor report is taught in Universities and often cited and used in the Courts by Defense Attorneys and Judges, including at the Supreme Court, as a benchmark for evaluating practices of racial discrimination by the police and the Legal System.
Two years after the Palmor Report was accepted by the Government, Palmor initiated and convinced the President of Israel and the Minister of Justice to implement a special pardon scheme for Ethiopians, to erase their criminal record that resulted from police profiling and harassment.
In June 2016, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked appointed Palmor to head a Committee to examine tools for reducing prostitution in Israel mainly to examine the possibility of criminalizing the use of prostitution, longtime demanded by a large coalition of female Knesset Members. The final recommendations of Palmor's Committee led to a historical bill imposing fines on consumers of prostitution, accompanied by a comprehensive rehabilitation plan for sex workers, and governmental programs in the field of education and social welfare for the prevention of future prostitution.
In January 2017, the government appointed Palmor to head the inter-ministerial committee to deal with the negative consequences of polygamy. Polygamy exists in Israel primarily in its Bedouin community that live in the Negev. The team sought to crack down on the practice through expanded police enforcement alongside anti-polygamy education in Bedouin schools and funding for programs that boost women's education, employment, healthcare and empowerment. The team's conclusions were submitted in a concluding report published in July 2018 and approved by Cabinet Ministers. Palmor spent a year meeting with Beduin women in southern Israel to develop the government's plan', and once it's 84 recommendations were published it drew criticism for trying to balance between discouraging the practice, while recognizing it cannot be immediately eliminated and surprisingly endorsed temporary permission to Sharia Courts to register such marriages under specific circumstances.
In May 2020, Palmor was selected to be one of the first 20 members of the Oversight Board, an entity that makes content moderation decisions on Facebook, specifically about handling appeals for blocked or removed content.
As of 2020, Palmor is the Chair of the Gesher Multicultural Film Fund that works to bridge the gaps between the multiculturalism that characterizes Israeli society, and its representation in cinema and television, and Chair of the 2021 Sapir Prize for Literature, the most prestigious annual literary award in Israel.
Palmor is also an adjunct lecturer and teaches Governance, Public Policy and Law at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy.
Since October 2020, Palmor is a member of the board of governors of the Hebrew university in Jerusalem.
Palmor has initiated, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, an educational project, named "Private in public", to prevent online sexual harassment and promote children's awareness of privacy online. As part of the project, hundreds of attorneys and employees of the Ministry of Justice volunteered to deliver thousands of lessons in middle schools and high schools across the country about the dangers of dissemination of visual private content on social media and the social and criminal consequences it can have. The project lasted for four consecutive years (2015–2018) involved hundreds of schools across the country and was accompanied by a TV and online campaign of video clips funded by the Ministry of Justice aimed both at children and their parents, to prevent incrimination of minors and possible mental damages to potential victims.
Personal and professional mentoring – including the mentoring program of the Hebrew University graduates' organization, The Master's Program in Public Policy of the School of Public Policy and Government at the Hebrew University, She's Women's Mentoring Program for Women's Empowerment Mentoring Programs for Ethiopian Israelis, Co-Impact program for the Breakthrough in Arab Employment and the Mentoring Program for the Development of Female Leadership by the Civil Service Commission "Mentors in the Civil Service".
Instruction of at-risk youth at the Kiryat Ye'arim boarding school – instruction in law and current affairs classes for at-risk youth between the years 2009–2014.