French President Emmanuel Macron confronted Israeli police in the Old City of Jerusalem Wednesday, yelling at them not to enter the Church of St. Anne, which is considered to be French territory.
AFP, a French news service, has more information on what caused French President Emmanuel Macron’s outburst at Israeli police a short time ago.
It, too, drew a parallel to a similar dust-up during a visit by France’s then-president Jacques Chirac to Jerusalem’s Old City in 1996.
“I don’t like what you did in front of me,” Macron is seen shouting at an Israeli policeman standing in front of him at the entrance to the Church of St. Anne, which is French territory in the Old City of Jerusalem.
“Go outside please, nobody has to provoke anyone, is that understood?” Macron says in English in video footage from the scene. “We stay calm, we have had a wonderful walk, you do a good job in the city and I appreciate it, but please respect the rules established for centuries, they will not change with me, I can tell you,” he adds.
“It’s France here, and everyone knows the rule,” he says, still in English.
The St. Anne basilica, built by the Crusaders in the 12th century and offered by the Ottoman Empire to France in 1856, is one of four French territories in Jerusalem, AFP notes.
The Church of St. Anne is a Roman Catholic church located at Via Dolorosa in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. In 1856, the Ottoman Sultan presented it to Napoleon III. St. Anne’s belongs to the French government and is administered by the Missionaries of Africa, commonly called “The White Fathers.”
The Church of St. Anne was built in the early 12th Century, on a site believed by crusaders to be the childhood home of the Virgin Mary. It fell into disrepair during the Ottoman rule of Palestine, and was eventually given back to Napoleon III by Sultan Abdulmecid I as a token of gratitude for French support during the Crimean War.
In 1996, Chirac got angry at Israeli soldiers for clinging too close to him and shoving well-wishers, residents and even accompanying journalists away when they tried to shake his hand or get close to him. Chirac famously put a hand on one officer’s shoulder and demanded, “Do you want me to go back to my plane?”
When his procession arrived at the Church of St. Anne, Chirac was angered to find armed Israeli officers inside the church. He demanded they leave before stepping inside himself.
The French president is in Jerusalem for the World Holocaust Forum, marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.