Is Banksy behind the Trump murals on West Bank barrier?
A mural resembling the work of elusive artist Banksy depicting President Donald Trump wearing a Jewish skullcap, is seen on Israel's West Bank separation barrier in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Iyad Moghrabi, The Associated Press
Published Friday, August 4, 2017 9:18AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, August 4, 2017 3:03PM EDT
Two murals showing an oversized U.S. President Donald Trump have appeared on Israel's West Bank separation barrier, just yards from where the elusive artist Banksy decorated a hotel earlier this year.
The new drawings popped up on the edge of Bethlehem, the Palestinian city where the barrier largely consists of a wall of towering slabs of concrete.
In one scene, Trump is shown hugging and kissing a real Israeli army watchtower built into the wall, as his left arm reaches around the tower. Little pink hearts flutter from Trump's mouth.
In another drawing, Trump is depicted wearing a Jewish skullcap and placing a hand a wall -- a scene taken from the U.S. president's May visit to Jerusalem's Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray. A cartoon "thought bubble" next to him says, "I'm going to build you a brother," a possible reference to Trump's plans to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
The murals were signed "lushsux" -- a signature that according to a 2016 report by the Australian newspaper "The Age" has been used in the past by a Melbourne street artist. The artist was among those who participated in a Banksy show in Britain in 2015, the report said.
A Twitter account in the name "lushsux" published the mural of Trump with his hand on a wall on Monday. The second mural was seen by an Associated Press cameraman for the first time Friday.
The new graffiti is just a few meters (yards) from "The Walled Off Hotel," a Palestinian-run guest house that opened earlier this year and sarcastically bills itself as having the "worst view in the world."
The nine-room hotel was decorated with Banksy's trademark political murals, including one in "Banksy's Room" that shows a masked Palestinian and a helmeted Israeli soldier in a pillow fight.
Israel began building the barrier a decade ago, at the height of an armed Palestinian uprising, saying the divider is needed to keep suicide bombers and gunmen from entering Israel. Palestinians say the barrier, which slices off about 10 per cent of the West Bank, amounts to a land grab.
Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in 1967. Several U.S.-led Israeli-Palestinian attempts to negotiate the terms of a Palestinian state on these lands have failed.
Trump said early on in his term that he would try to broker a deal, but has not offered a way forward.