French premier Emmanuel Macron was found in a verbal spat with Israeli security officers in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Macron is visiting Jerusalem to attend a Holocaust remembrance event on Thursday and had arrived at the Church of Saint Anne considered French oversees territory when he was seen giving a rebuke to the Israeli security officers who were following him to the church.
“Everybody knows the rules. I don’t like what you did in front of me. Go outside!” Macron was seen admonishing the officers. The Roman Catholic church which traces its roots back to 12th century was handed over as a gift by that time Ottoman Sultan to French ruler Napoleon III in 1856. “Please respect the rules, they are [in place] for centuries. They will not change with me, I can tell you,” the French statesman added during the verbal altercation.
According to a stamen made by Frenchman’s spokeswoman cited that an exchange between hosts’ and French security members prompted the intervention. “St. Anne belongs to France in Jerusalem. It is up to France to protect these places in this city. The Israeli security forces wanted to enter while security was being provided by French security services. The president reacted to an altercation between the Israeli and French security forces at the time of entering Saint Anne in order to end it, and to remind everyone of the rules that apply,” the spokeswoman recorded.
Israeli authorities have maintained that the incident between the visitors and them was a discussion and that the proceedings were carried through peacefully.
“Based on the terms agreed upon ahead of time, an Israel Security Agency (ISA) guard and a policeman escorted the French President and his delegation inside,” a joint police and ISA statement read.
Following the end of delegation, the Elysée Palace resident made an apology about the incident as per the version of Israeli officials. However, the spokeswoman to Mr. Macron has declined to confirm if he apologized, saying, “I don’t know. I didn’t witness that moment.”
The French sharing the general characterization with most of the world nations do not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the historical city of Jerusalem and consider it under occupation, a claim consistently contested by Israel which regards the old city as its integral part.
Wednesday’s heated exchanges were reminiscent of the 1996 incident when that time French President Jacques Chirac was also filmed in a row with Israel security officials during a visit to the historical Church. Macron is one of the 40 World leaders that will be part of the Fifth World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem; the others attending the event include Russian President Vladimir Putin, Britain’s Prince Charles and Vice President of United States Mike Pence.