Is Banksy behind two Trump murals?
Artwork, which pokes at U.S. border wall vow, sparks rumors.
JERUSALEM — The spirit of a world-class artist blessed with sharp political wit has been emerging lately, as if by magic, in the little town of Bethlehem. It’s not the first time, of course, that an unexplained marvel has appeared here.
Two massive murals depicting President Trump made their debut early Friday in Israel on the wall that separates Bethlehem, which is part of the Palestinian West Bank, from Jerusalem.
According to transcripts published Thursday, Trump mentioned the Israeli wall in a phone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto a week after his inauguration.
In the January call, Trump refers to his promise to build a wall separating the United States from Mexico.
“You know,” Trump says to his Mexican counterpart, “you look at Israel — Israel has a wall and everyone said do not build a wall, walls do not work — 99.9% of people trying to come across that wall cannot get across.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump said, “told me the wall works.”
One of the new murals on the 25-foot-high wall in Bethlehem shows the U.S. president wearing a kipa and laying his palm on the wall, a gesture Trump decidedly did not make on his highly anticipated visit to Bethlehem in May, when his convoy sped past the wall.
The image appears to depict Trump’s visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. It shows him wearing the Jewish head covering and placing his entire hand on the old stones.
A speech bubble emerging from Trump’s forehead states, “I’m going to build you a brother.”
The murals surfaced a few feet from the Walled Off Hotel, a Palestinian hotel/installation art that opened in March under the sponsorship of the British guerrilla artist Banksy, whose work appears in several locations in Bethlehem.
The hotel boasts that it offers the “worst view in the world” and is decorated with Banksy’s work, including a bedroom wall painting depicting a balaclava-wearing Palestinian and a helmeted Israeli soldier having a pillow fight.
The second mural shows Trump wrapping his arm around an Israeli watchtower as if to kiss it, a shower of pink hearts covering the area between his arm and his mouth.
The latest murals have sparked speculation they are the work of Banksy, though they do not display the whimsy of many of his other works, such as a painting he created in an earlier, stealthy visit to Bethlehem that depicts a girl lifted skyward by helium balloons.
The works are unsigned. A man who answered the phone at the hotel said he could not say who painted the murals. “We have no idea,” he said.
A NEW mural of President Trump makes a stealthy debut in the West Bank.