The story revealed by Israel Hayom about the alleged misconduct of a senior Mossad department head, unsurprisingly, was the number one topic of conversation at the spy agency's headquarters near Glilot on Sunday. After all, it's not every day that a senior department head of Israel's ultra-secretive foreign spy agency is relieved of his duties for alleged financial and managerial improprieties.
The accused official's supporters (of which there are many) believe that a mountain is being made out of a molehill. They argue that the issue is nothing more than a procedural infraction that should be dealt with at the ministerial level, that Mossad agents fighting to protect Israel's security under his command have no reason for concern, and that his stellar career, which has included a number of key positions in the agency, should not be cut short.
On the other hand, his detractors (of which there are also many) believe that the alleged misconduct cannot merely be swept under the rug as a bureaucratic, technical mistake. They argue that he is suspected of grave misdoings that require an investigation, and that in their opinion the police's recommendation to indict him is evidence that Mossad chief Tamir Pardo acted correctly when he decided to suspend the man until a resolution is reached.
The State Prosecutor will ultimately decide whether the senior Mossad official is criminally tried, whether his alleged misconduct requires a disciplinary hearing, or if his attorney's testimony is accepted and the charges are dropped altogether. His immediate superiors in the spy agency will ultimately decide if, when and how to end his employment.
The more important matter is what the Mossad does: There is no dissension regarding Pardo's declaration of his commitment to safeguarding the organization's norms of conduct and values; without these the Mossad would lack purpose and sustainability, and it would be a short road to becoming just another Israeli organization. In this sense Pardo is the keeper of the flame, obligated by the public's trust to preserve the Mossad's excellence, values, operational capabilities and secrecy.
However, the Mossad chief must also unify his ranks. Even if the decision to suspend the senior department commander turns out to be correct, Pardo must still provide the reasoning behind it to his subordinates, which they have yet to receive.
Either way, it's not every day that a senior Mossad official is tossed aside — to be replaced by someone else — especially from a new department only recently created. Such a step must be made, and it's crucial that it happens quickly.