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Baker Was Friendly to Israel in Senate, but Voted for Arab Arms

Former Sen. Howard Baker, who began his duties Monday as White House Chief of Staff, was considered friendly toward Israel during his 18 years in the Senate.

However, the 61-year-old Tennessee Republican, was not considered among the leading supporters of Israel in Congress.

In particular, Baker rejected efforts to deny arms to Arab countries that were considered enemies of Israel. As Senate Majority Leader in 1981, he was instrumental in preventing Senate rejection of the Reagan Administration’s sale of AWACS and other sophisticated equipment to Saudi Arabia.

In 1978, Baker also voted against the effort to block the Carter Administration’s sale of F-15s to the Saudis and F-5Es to Egypt.

Thus, in his new post, Baker is expected to reinforce the Administration’s policy of support for Israel while providing arms to such Arab countries as Jordan and Saudi Arabia.