The public does not yet know whether the Mossad operation to locate Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad, which Prime Minister Naftali Bennett revealed to the Knesset on Monday night, was a success or a failure.
But regardless of what happened, if Bennett does not reveal details of the alleged success, and soon, it will be recorded in history as a failure.
Already, sources within the Mossad and the broader defense establishment have called the operation daring but a failure, and they have slammed Bennett for making it public.
Bennett’s predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, was known for outing the Mossad more often than any prime minister in history. He was criticized for this by four living former Mossad chiefs.
But when Netanyahu publicized the Mossad’s heist of Iran’s nuclear archives in 2018, he had kept the operation secret for three months so that Israel could first make sure it had real substance to share with the world.
The impression Bennett has given to date through his vague announcement and his just as vague pushback that the operation “achieved its goals,” is that he simply wanted to say the word Mossad out loud and look prime ministerial like his predecessor, Netanyahu.
Hopefully, this is not the case, and Bennett will have more to share. If he does, and does it soon, he can set the record straight.
However, if he does not, he will have violated one of his cardinal principles for the new government: returning governing to normal.
Normal by Mossad standards is being in the shadows. It means not using the spy agency as a political football.
Normal means achieving missions that no one finds out about until decades later, thereby preventing any damage and danger to sources and Mossad methods.
There is no telling what additional resources Israel’s enemies may now pour into discovering what Israel was doing and what they might discover – none of which might have happened if Bennett had kept quiet.
He will now have to prove that he did not violate his promise of depoliticizing governance by sharing what success he referred to and why it was necessary to make the Arad operation public in the first place.