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Macron loses cool with Israeli forces in ‘Chirac moment’

By AFP - Jan 23,2020 - Last updated at Jan 23,2020

French President Emmanuel Macron asks Israeli forces to leave the 12th-century Church of Saint Anne in the old city of Jerusalem on Wednesday (AFP photo)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — When French President Emmanuel Macron visited Jerusalem's Old City on Wednesday, he also trod in the footsteps of one of his predecessors, Jacques Chirac, by engaging in a heated argument with Israeli forces.

The altercation broke out when Israeli forces pushed past the French detail and were first to enter the Church of Saint Anne, which is French state property.

“Everybody knows the rules. I don’t like what you did in front of me,” an animated Macron loudly told the Israeli personnel, speaking in English, in the crush to enter the building, which remains French territory under international treaties. 

“Go out — outside please!” he added in a raised voice in scenes captured in video footage that quickly spread on social media.

Macron will on Thursday attend a ceremony to commemorate the liberation of Nazi Germany’s Auschwitz death camp in what was then occupied Poland.

Wednesday’s tense scenes recalled a 1996 Jerusalem visit by late former president Chirac during which he also lost his cool with Israeli security agents who were pressing him to move on.

Chirac heatedly told them their actions were a “provocation” and angrily asked: “What do you want? Me to go back to my plane and go back to France, is that what you want?”

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