Israeli offices in Arab countries, which have been closed during the Intifada, continue to function in secret, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said during a press conference Thursday in Sanaa.
Four Arab countries, Oman, Qatar, Morocco and Tunisia, announced in October and November the closure of Israeli government offices in their capitals as a protest against Israel's repression of the Palestinian uprising.
Saleh expressed the hope during the press conference that Arab countries will terminate any Israeli presence in their countries during the summit of Arab leaders scheduled for Amman on March 27, reported AFP.
"Israel is the enemy of the Islamic nation and especially the Palestinians," Saleh said, calling for the uprising to be pursued "until victory," the agency said.
Only Jordan and Egypt, which have signed peace treaties with Israel, are maintaining relations with the Jewish state.
But both countries refused to post their ambassadors on grounds of Israeli practices against the Palestinians.
Egypt recalled its ambassador, Mohammed Bassyouni, following the bombardment of Palestinian Authority targets in Gaza and the West Bank in October. While, Jordan has since October suspended the return of its envoy to Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile, the Yemeni President said he was determined to follow up on the democratic process in his country, despite the violent clashes that marked recent local elections, said AFP.
Saleh told reporters that the clashes around the elections and the referendum on extending presidential and legislative mandates left a total of "13 dead, eight soldiers and five civilians, and 34 wounded."
Reports said that at least 30 were killed in the clashes. AFP reported last week that 11 policemen were among those killed.
The Yemeni President accused the media of having "exaggerated" the casualty toll from violence linked to the elections.
"It is the first time that local elections have been held in Yemen and it is normal that such an event be marked by certain negative aspects, which have not however been as major as the media would have one believe," he said.
He accused certain unnamed parties of deliberately inflating the size of the violent incidents, to convey "a message to neighboring countries that democracy has its casualties," AFP quoted him as saying.
The final results of the local elections have not yet been declared, but early returns suggest the presidential party, the ruling General Popular Congress (GPC), has scored a convincing win.
GPC called for the election commission to set up an investigation into 132 incidents provoked by opposition parties to hold up voting in various polling stations. But opposition parties launched a counterattack.
They claimed that there had been irregularities and rigging.
They also called for new local elections and another referendum to be held with independent monitors, said the news service – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )