Trump Wall Love Inspires Mocking Graffiti On Israel's Bethlehem Barrier

Bethlehem barrier
Palestinians walk past graffiti depicting U.S. President Donald Trump on the controversial Israeli barrier in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on August 4. Reuters/Mussa Qawasma

An Australian artist—rather than a Palestinian, or the anonymous graffiti artist Banksy—has used President Donald Trump's support of walls to mock his policies with graffiti on the barrier separating the West Bank city of Bethlehem with Israel.

In pictures shared on social media, the American leader is depicted wearing a kippa and touching the wall, telling it, "I'm going to build you a brother," in apparent reference to the president's plan to install a Mexico border wall. It mimics the image of President Trump touching the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the holy prayer site for Jews, during his visit to the region in May.

In a second mural, he hugs and kisses an Israeli military watchtower, with hearts coming from his mouth and his left arm reaching around the structure attached to the wall.

The artist behind the murals, who goes by the name Lushsux, told Newsweek in an email: "I just have seen that Trump loves border walls, so since I'm at one of the biggest yet somehow not so well known ones in the world I thought I'd paint Mr Trump on it."

His tweets earlier in the week showed that he was in Bethlehem, along with a post of the Trump mural.

Trump has pointed to the West Bank wall as an example of his vision: to build a barrier along the southern U.S. border with Mexico in a bid to stop drug-smuggling, people-trafficking and illegal immigration.

Graffiti artist Banksy also has created famous artworks on the wall that criticize the Israeli government's policies. He recently opened a nine-room hotel in the West Bank city; it's known as the "Walled Off Hotel" and described as offering guests the "worst view in the world."

Palestinians consider the wall, which was built following the start of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, to be an Israeli tool to separate and subjugate them, as well as an attempt to siphon off sections of West Bank land. As a result, the Palestinian side of the wall is daubed with reams of graffiti, particularly in Bethlehem, which hosts the Church of the Nativity, the said birthplace of Jesus.

Israel says the barrier has almost stopped all the suicide bombings that have defined the six-year period of unrest that began in 2000. It says it is required to stop gunmen from entering the country.

Since October 2015, Palestinians have carried out a wave of stabbing, shooting and vehicle-ramming attacks against Israelis. Tensions recently flared again after Israel imposed new security measures at a contested Jerusalem holy site after a Palestinian gunman killed two policemen at the compound.

Trump has said he wants to broker the ultimate deal, but Palestinians have little belief that he is an impartial broker. Saeb Erekat, a top Palestinian negotiator, said on Tuesday that Trump's silence on Israel's continued building of settlement units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank encouraged "apartheid" policies in Israel.

Peace talks between both sides have been stalled since 2014, and Trump has dispatched his son-in-law Jared Kushner and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt to create a way forward in the decadeslong conflict.