Entering, Wattenberg sees Prime Minister Yaakov Brumwell sitting in his favorite leather chair. A small man, he actually looks lost in it. Brumwell reminds Wattenberg of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. Ben-Gurion was small of stature, with thinning hair and a stern look on his face most of the time. Regardless, he was a giant of a leader. Brumwell, however, has a way about him with people that Ben-Gurion never had. He listens, and he doesn’t jump to conclusions. “Come in, come in,” Brumwell says warmly, another trait in which he and Ben-Gurion would have differed.
“I’ve given Mossad’s proposal of a covert action a great deal of thought,” he says, settling back in his chair. “However, we need to iron out some issues before I can make a decision.”
Wattenberg sits down in an equally comfortable chair in front of Brumwell’s desk, wondering where this conversation is going to go. “What issues do we need to discuss?” Wattenberg asks noncommittally.
“Well, for one thing, Ariel, how much time do you estimate we’ll need for an operation such as you have proposed to bring us positive results?”
“We estimate that it will take us, at minimum, one and possibly as much as three months to get reliable information, Yaakov. Of course, we’ll with have contact with our team on a schedule that will allow us to make real-time decisions to continue or to withdraw.”
“Who will set up the itinerary for your team to follow, or are they going to have carte blanche?”
“Mossad will set up the itinerary. Yosef Bergman will be the team’s inside contact.”
“Have you invented identities for these two so they don’t end up on CNN exposed as Israeli spies?”
“Of course, Yaakov. Yosef and I will meet with them, first to simply see if they believe this plan of ours is really feasible. Right now it is only a brainstorm. We are simply asking for your permission to proceed, to see if this idea can become a reality.”
“How much money do you expect this little brainstorm of yours will cost us?” asks Brumwell.
“Will it be cheap? Certainly not,” replies Wattenberg. “Is it necessary? I would say very definitely.”
Brumwell looks down at his desk, then slowly raises his eyes to meet Wattenberg’s again. “What I want you to do, before I can give my final decision, my friend, is to meet with these gentlemen. Have them sign a Mossad secrecy document. Work up what their fees would be for three months, cost of equipment to do the job efficiently, cost of insertion and removal, plus an emergency extraction plan, should that become necessary.” The prime minister looks down momentarily, then looks back up at Wattenberg. “I have to tell you, Ariel, this idea of yours intrigues me.” Wattenberg dares to look hopeful, but Yaakov Brumwell raises a hand. “And it scares me to death.”
“I know,” Wattenberg says heavily. “I feel the same way.”