Israel's unsolicted role as scapegoat at the United Nations was "sad", and painted "an unflattering picture of international ethics" PM Netanyahu's communications advisor, David Bar-Illan, said yesterday.

He was responding to a non-binding Security Council statement criticising Israel for the recently-announced plan to expand Jerusalem's municipal boundaries.

"It's hard to relate seriously to the UN, as even the nations that are friendly to us vote against us in the UN because even they don't take the UN so seriously," he said.

"On the other hand, we would be very happy if the attitude in the UN was a bit more fair ..."

Security Council members unanimously endorsed a statement from the council president calling on Israel and the Palestinians "to avoid actions which might prejudice the outcome of the negotiations".

The statement called the decision to expand Jerusalem's boundaries "a serious and damaging development" and called on Israel "not to proceed with that decision".

The statement was the result of complaints brought by the PLO observer mission to the UN. Attempts to have the Security Council pass a binding resolution denouncing Israel were stymied by the United States.

Bar-Illan said Israel would continue developing Jerusalem for the benefit of all its residents, stressing again that the plan was based on municipal considerations, and had nothing to do with the Oslo Accords.

Reacting to the UN statement, the US-based Conference of National Jewish Organisations said it infringed "Israel's indisputable jurisdiction over Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish nation".

"We are appalled by the concurrence of the United States in a UN Security Council statement which wrongfully detracts from the incontestable jurisdiction of Israel over the city of Jerusalem," conference chairman Rabbi David Algaze said in a statement.

"The inalienable and eternal right of the Jewish people's sovereignty over Jerusalem is deeply rooted in history, religion and international law. We are shocked that the Clinton Administration would dangerously appease Israel's enemies by permitting the United Nations to engage in its craven habit of bashing Israel."

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