Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Yemen Jews rally in support of Saleh

SANAA, May 03, 2011 (AFP) - Dozens of Yemeni Jews rallied in the capital Sanaa in support of embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Tuesday, witnesses said.

"The sons of the Jewish sect in Yemen support Ali Abdullah Saleh and the constitutional legitimacy," read one of the banners written in Hebrew.

"The people want Ali Abdullah Saleh," they chanted.

The demonstrators gathered outside the US embassy and handed over a letter demanding that Saleh remain in office until his latest term ends in 2013.

Yemen has been rocked by nationwide protests for more than three months demanding that Saleh, who has been in power since 1978, quit immediately.

More than 145 people have been killed in the unrest.

The impoverished country's oil-rich Gulf Arab neighbours have been trying to broker an end to the three-month-old bloodshed through a plan that would see the veteran ruler quit within 30 days.

However, a defiant Saleh has publicly insisted on sticking to the constitution in any transfer of power, even though his ruling General People's Congress party has said it accepts the Gulf Cooperation Council plan.

The bloc's secretary general, Abdullatif al-Zayani, is to head back to Sanaa this week to renew the mediation efforts, his office announced on Sunday.

Most of Yemen's remaining Jewish community of barely 400 people live in the Amran area, north of the capital.

In 1948, the country's Jewish community numbered some 60,000. But in the three years following the creation of the Jewish state that year, more than 48,000 emigrated to Israel.

The community continued to dwindle in subsequent decades and by the early 1990s it numbered only around 1,000 people. The lifting of a longstanding travel ban in 1993 sparked a fresh exodus.

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