French president scolds Israeli security at Jerusalem church in Old City

January 24, 2020 by JNS
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French President Emmanuel Macron berated Israeli security personnel on Wednesday during a visit to Jerusalem’s Old City, after they pushed ahead of his own security detail to enter the Church of Saint Anne, which is French state property.

French President Emmanuel Macron visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on Jan. 22, 2020. Photo by Shlomi Cohen/Flash90.

Speaking in English, Macron told the Israeli security team, “Everybody knows the rules. I don’t like what you did in front of me. Go out. Outside,” Reuters reported.

Amid the crush at the entrance to the church, the French president urged everyone to remain calm, saying, “Nobody has to provoke nobody. OK? We keep calm.” He thanked the Israeli security personnel, saying, “you did a great job in the city, I do appreciate that,” but added, “please respect the rules, as they are, for centuries. They will not change with me, I can tell you, okay? So everybody, respect the rules.”

The Israel Police and Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) said in a joint statement that the French president’s security detail and the Israeli security team had discussed whether the Israelis could enter the church with him, the Times of Israel reported.

“In accordance with the security arrangements coordinated beforehand, the French president and his people were accompanied in the church by a policeman and a member of the Shin Bet,” the statement said, according to the report.

In 1996 a similar incident occurred with former French president Jacques Chirac, who also had a dispute with Israeli security at the same church.

During his visit to the Old City, Macron also stopped by the Western Wall. The French president is in Israel for the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, along with more than 40 other world leaders.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday called on France to recognize a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 lines with eastern Jerusalem as its capital, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Abbas made the request during a meeting with Macron in his Ramallah office.

“We are looking forward to France’s recognition of the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, as the only way to salvage the European-backed two-state solution. That will give hope to our people about the prospects of achieving peace and stability,” Abbas said, according to the report.


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