French President Emmanuel Macron criticized members of the Israeli police during a tour of the Old City of Jerusalem, warning them of violating the rules that prevent them from entering St. Ann’s Church.
Macron said in English: “I do not like what you did in front of me. Please go out, no one should provoke another person.”
The scene reminded a similar scene of the late French President Jacques Chirac in the 1990s.
Macron is visiting Jerusalem to attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II.
St. Ann’s Church, which dates back to 1138 AD, is the best preserved church from the Crusades era in Jerusalem.
The French flag has been raised on the Church of Saint Ann since it was given by the Ottomans to France in 1856 as a sign of gratitude for help in the Crimean War.
Videos, posted on Wednesday, showed Macron standing in a corridor leading to the church, surrounded by French and Israeli security forces.
The President was seen pointing to an Israeli police officer in uniform and saying aloud: “I don’t like what you did in front of me. Please go out.”
He added: “I am sorry, but we know the rules. No one, no one should provoke another person, no one. To keep calm.”
Then he said to one of the security personnel in plain clothes: “We made a wonderful tour, and you did a wonderful job in the city. I appreciate it.”
He added: “Please respect the rules that were established centuries ago. You will not change with me. I assure you that, okay?”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the incident.
The late President Jacques Chirac, during his visit to St. Ann’s Church in 1996, had expressed his anger when members of the Israeli security forces pushed Palestinians, journalists and assistants with him.
He also spoke in English and asked them: “What do you want? To go back to my plane and go back to France? Is this what you want? Let them go. Let them go.”
The Israeli government, also led by Benjamin Netanyahu, also apologized to President Chirac, saying that it had happened “to protect a friend.”