After Years of Anti-Israel Rhetoric, UN Seated On Sidelines As Observer With AM-Mideast Rdp, Bjt

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ After years of spouting anti-Israel resolutions and rhetoric, the United Nations now finds itself relegated to observer status at the Middle East peace conference, a role that rankles the secretary-general.

Israel, which owes its existence to the 1947 U.N. vote to end the British mandate of Palestine and create two Jewish and Arab states, refused to accept full participation by the world body in the peace conference opening Wednesday in Madrid.

The United Nations will be seated as an observer, represented by the secretary-general's personal representative to the Middle East, Swiss diplomat Edouard Brunner.

''I believe that this is not enough,'' Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar said of the non-participant status of the world body.

''If that is all they are going to offer the United Nations, it is insufficient and unfair,'' he told a news conference last month.

''We should not forget that Israel is the creation of the United Nations organization and that the framework of any Middle East solution has to be the two Security Council resolutions, 242 (of 1967) and 338 (of 1973).''

Those resolutions call for peace talks between Israel and its Arab neighbors, and lay the groundwork of a land-for-peace deal.

Israel has every reason to be wary of the United Nations, after some two decades of anti-Israeli resolutions, rhetoric and policies that have issued from the world body.

The most rankling U.N. policy is the General Assembly's 1975 resolution declaring Zionism to be a form of racism, a measure targeted by the United States and Israel for repeal by the end of this assembly session.

Perez de Cuellar has denounced that resolution, but his views tend to be lost in the greater chorus of anti-Israeli statements that have emanated from the United Nations.

The Security Council, in which the United States could once be relied upon to protect Israel's interests, has become increasingly critical of Jerusalem's policies. The Bush administration has said it would pursue a more even-handed approach toward Israel and its Arab neighbors.