Israel might have just scored European Union support for finally
allowing Jews the right to pray atop Jerusalem's Temple Mount, the
holiest site in the world for Jews and many Christians.
Whether or not it was her intent, EU High Representative Catherine
Ashton on Friday issued a call for religious freedom in
Jerusalem that by definition must also include Jewish access to the
"The High Representative is disturbed by recent events in East Jerusalem
such as those that took place at Orthodox Easter, the unrest in the area
of the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount and the temporary detention of the
Mufti of Jerusalem. ...It is essential that access to the holy sites in
Jerusalem for peaceful worship for all denominations is fully
respected," said Ashton's spokesperson.
For years Israeli police have denied Jews and Christians the right to
pray, even silently, atop the Temple Mount for fear of sparking a Muslim
riot. Islamic officials follow every Jewish and Christian group visiting
the holy site to ensure this restriction is obeyed.
The European Union has never before supported Jewish prayer on the
Temple Mount, and Ashton herself views the presence of Jews on the
eastern side of the holy city as an obstacle to peace. As such, it is
highly unlikely that she intended to throw her weight behind true
freedom of religious expression for Israeli Jews in Jerusalem.