Did the EU just back Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount?

Sunday, May 12, 2013 |  Ryan Jones

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 Temple Mount.

"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.

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