Is Banksy be­hind two Trump mu­rals?

Art­work, which pokes at U.S. bor­der wall vow, sparks ru­mors.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Noga Tarnopol­sky Tarnopol­sky is a spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent.

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.

Abed al Hash­lam­oun Euro­pean Pressphoto Agency

A NEW mu­ral of Pres­i­dent Trump makes a stealthy de­but in the West Bank.

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