Macron grows angry with Israeli security during church visit

AP , Wednesday 22 Jan 2020

French President Emmanuel Macron asks the Israeli police to leave the 12th-century Church of Saint Anne in the old city of Jerusalem on January 22, 2020. AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday lost his temper with Israeli security agents during a visit to a French church in Jerusalem and angrily ordered one of them to leave the premises.

The incident occurred during a spat between Israeli forces and Macron's own security detail as he entered the Church of St. Anne. The church, located in Jerusalem's Old City, is French state property and Macron did not want the Israeli guards leading him inside.

``Everybody knows the rules,'' Macron said in English as he raised his voice toward an Israeli security official. ``I don't like what you did in front of me. Go outside.''

He then turned to another Israeli official and thanked him for his work. But he then asked the police around him to ``please respect the rules as they are for centuries. They will not change with me.''

Macron later described the incident as a ``moment of irritation'' between security forces, noting that Israeli security stops at the door of the church ``and French security takes over.''

Israel has deployed thousands of police as dozens of world leaders, including Macron, descend upon the city for a commemoration ceremony Thursday marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

The scene was reminiscent of a 1996 visit by then French President Jacques Chirac, who also got angry at Israeli security accompanying him in Jerusalem.

``What do you want, me to go back to my plane and go back to France?'' Chirac screamed at the time.

In a joint statement, Israeli police and the Shin Bet security agency said that when Macron arrived, ``there was a discussion'' between Israeli and French security about entering the church with him. It said Israeli guards escorted him inside ``based on the terms agreed upon ahead of time.``

``When the president and the delegation finished the visit, he apologized about the incident and shook hands with the security personnel and continued his scheduled visit in the old city with security guards,'' it said.

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