JERUSALEM—French President Emmanuel Macron urged Israeli police to get out of the Saint-Anne church in the old city of Jerusalem, in a scene reminiscent of an incident that involved former President Jacques Chirac in 1996.
“I don’t like what you did in front of me,” the French leader shouted at an Israeli policeman, asking him to leave the church.
The Church of St. Anne is a French territory in the Old Cty of Jerusalem since the Ottomans gave it to Emperor Napoleon III in 1856 thanks for his support during the Crimean War
Macron arrived more than three hours late at the church where Israeli law enforcement officials are not allowed to enter. At around 3 p.m, a stampede occurred at the entrance to this place of worship. The president then raised his voice, in English: “Everybody know the rules. I don’t like what you did in front of me. Go outside. I’m sorry. You know the rules. Nobody has to provoke nobody,” he said.
According to the Israeli media, the clash between Macron and Israeli security forces ensued after a policemen wished to go inside the church with him, prompting the leader to excoriate them.
Macron then turned to the main security figure of the bodyguard unit of the Shin Bet (Israel’s domestic security agency), thanked him for his work, but requested everyone to leave.
“You did a splendid job in the city. Please, respect the rules carried out for hundreds of years,” he added.
In 1996, former French president Chirac had a similar verbal altercation with Israeli security personnel. He then demanded that Israeli soldiers leave the Sainte-Anne Basilica after losing his temper against soldiers who framed him in launching his famous “Do you want me to go back to my plane and go to France?”