JERUSALEM, Israel - The Obama administration's plan to shore up "moderate" elements in the Lebanese-based Hezbollah terror organization must be a "joke" and is certainly naïve, a top Israeli military official said on Thursday.
John Brennan, special assistant to President Barack Obama and deputy national security adviser, told a Washington think tank on Tuesday that while some elements of Hezbollah "are truly a concern to us," the U.S. needs "to find ways to diminish their influence within the organization and to try to build up the more moderate elements."
But Israeli Army reserve Maj. Gen Yaakov Amidror, said he couldn't believe that anyone in Washington would believe there could be "moderates" in Hezbollah. Watch more of Amidror's comments here.
Must Be a Joke
"I think it's a joke," Amidror told CBN News in Jerusalem.
"I don't believe there is anyone in the administration who is naïve enough to believe there are moderate elements within Hezbollah," said Amidror, former commander of the IDF's National Defense College and IDF Staff and Command College.
Brennan said he is intrigued by this "very interesting organization," which has evolved from "purely a terrorist organization" to a position in Lebanon's unity government. That position includes several cabinet posts and parliamentary veto power.
"I am pleased to see that a lot of Hezbollah individuals are in fact renouncing that type of terrorism and violence and trying to participate in the political process in a very legitimate fashion," Reuters quoted Brennan as having said.
According to Brennan, the group's "terrorist core" will eventually give way to its political aspirations.
"However within Hezbollah, there's still a terrorist core and hopefully those elements - within the Shi'a community in Lebanon and within Hezbollah at large - they're going to continue to look at that extremist terrorist core as being something that is an anathema to what, in fact, they're trying to accomplish in terms of their aspirations about being part of the political process in Lebanon," he said.
But Amidror said that Hezbollah is not run locally.
"The decisions of Hezbollah [are] not made by pure Hezbollah members but with a full integration with Tehran," Amidror said. "There are more people in Tehran who are making decisions for Hezbollah than people within Hezbollah who are [making] these decisions."
Can't be that Naïve
Asked about the article, which appeared in Thursday's Jerusalem Post, Amidror said he thought there must be something wrong with the translation.
"I don't believe there is anyone in the administration who is naïve enough and unfamiliar enough with Hezbollah to believe there are moderate elements within Hezbollah that might act against Iran.
"I don't believe this naïveté exists in Washington, I think that this is something that [the] Jerusalem Post has to go and to find where a mistake was [made] maybe in the translation to what is going on in Washington to the front page of Jerusalem Post because if the Jerusalem Post is right something wrong [happened] in Washington," he said.
According to the Post, it's not the first time Brennan has made such comments.