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.
"Everybody knows the rules ... Outside, please," he can be heard screaming at Israeli security forces.
France made it clear early Thursday that contrary to an Israeli police statement, there was no "apology" on their part about the incident in the Old City. According to Elysees officials, Israeli security forces tried to enter the common ground of the French-owned church space and President Macron responded to a dispute that arose between French and Israeli security.
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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."
According to French daily Le Figaro, an Israeli security guard had tried to enter the church prior to the incident with Macron, and was asked to leave by French security personnel.
Later Wednesday, The Israel Police later said in an official statement that following Macron's departure from the church, his team apologized for the incident and the French president shook the hands of the Israeli security forces at the scene.
In 1996, French President Jacques Chirac reproached Israeli security forces for following him during his visit to the Muslim Quarter.
The French president is in Jerusalem for the World Holocaust Forum, marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
Also scheduled to participate in the Holocaust forum are Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. All the leaders of the European Union will attend, as will Britain’s Prince Charles and other heads of state.
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