Incoming White House chief of staff Donald T. Regan is expected to play a role in shaping international economic policy on such issues as aid to Israel when he moves into his new job Feb. 4, a well-informed administration official said yesterday.
This official said Regan is likely to put a new face on the White House staff within several months of replacing chief of staff James A. Baker III, who has been nominated for Regan's Treasury post.
Regan intends to name five or six deputies to handle such major areas of responsibility as politics, Congress, domestic policy, communications and legal affairs, the official said.
Regan has not decided whom to hire for these posts but expects to begin making choices by next week, the official said.
Like Baker, Regan will be a member of the National Security Council. While he is not expected to take a leading role in such foreign-policy matters as arms control, the former Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. executive believes that economics should be stressed more often in administration foreign-policy deliberations.
The official cited, as an example, U.S. aid to Israel, an increasingly sensitive issue for the administration. Officials said yesterday that President Reagan plans to ask Congress for about $1.9 billion in security assistance for Israel next year.
An official describing Regan's views on aid to Israel said, "Everything we talk about up to this point has been political and security, and their problem is economic. And they're going to go broke if they're not careful."
The Israeli economy has been suffering from runaway inflation, and the administration has been quietly urging Israel's coalition government to take stern measures to stabilize the economy rather than depend on foreign aid to do so.
The official said Regan believes that just giving Israel "a handout" will not solve the underlying problem, and discussed Israel's troubles in this way:
"What's the sense, if you have a sick kid, giving it candy? Find out what's wrong with it and have a couple of experts prescribe the right medicine."
In the weeks since the president announced Regan's job swap with Baker, Regan has been immersed in studying briefing books, interviewing a wide range of former White House officials and Reagan intimates, and studying how presidential assistants have performed since the days of Woodrow Wilson.
Speculation has centered on several officials whom Regan might bring to the White House.
For the post of political deputy, there has been speculation that political consultant Edward J. Rollins, former White House political director and Reagan-Bush campaign director, might return.
Others mentioned frequently include veteran Reagan adviser Lyn Nofziger; Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee; and Gerald Carmen, former General Services Administration chief.
In the policy field, Regan will probably bring to the White House Alfred Kingon, now assistant Treasury secretary for policy, planning and communications.
In communications, Regan may seek a separate communications director to focus on long-range planning, whose job would be distinct from that of White House spokesman Larry Speakes