Israel's chief of military intelligence said today the chances are "infinitesimal" that Syria will voluntarily remove its surface-to-air missiles from central Lebanon, as Israel has demanded under the threat of destroying them.
On the eve of the arrival here of U.S. specical envoy Philip C. Habib on his diplomatic shuttle effort to defuse the Syrian missile crisis, Army intelligence chief Yehoshua Saguy said Syria is making preparations for a limited war of attrition with Israel, but for the time being would like to avoid an all-out clash.
Saguy's remark in an interview on Israeli radio, coupled with a statement Sunday night by Prime Minister Menachem Begin that if Habib cannot assure him the missiles will be removed Israel will remove them, appeared to reflect growing Israeli impatience with the diplomatic effort to end the crisis.
Begin said at an election campaign rally in Netanya that he will tell Habib upon his arrival: "Are you moving them or not? If you don't move them, then we will move them."
Saguy also said the missile crisis is only a symptom of a larger problem in the region, namely Syria's internal political problems and President Hafez Assad's designs on establishing total Syrian domination of Lebanon.
The intelligence chief said one result of Israel's June 7 air strike against the Iraqi nuclear reactor was that Arab nations probably have become more sensitive to the distances over which Israeli warplanes can strike, and that air defense systems probably will be adjusted accordingly.
Saguy said that all of Israel's military and civilian intelligence had indicated the reactor in Baghdad would be operational at the latest by July 17, the anniversary of Iraq's revolution.