Trump and Netanyahu Share an Intimate Kiss on West Bank Wall Mural

For Bethlehem resident Marwan Shaban, the graffiti symbolises an outcry against 'unfairness and persecution'

Tourists kiss each other as they stand in front of a mural depicting U.S. President Donald Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kissing each other in the West Bank city of Bethlehem October 29, 2017
REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma

In the darkness of the night, a graffiti artist stood at the foot of a controversial concrete barricade -- erected by Israel around parts of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank -- and wielded a can of spraypaint across the wall.

The artist, an Australian man who goes by the alias @LushSux, was painting a giant mural depicting a kiss shared by the leaders of the United States and Israel - President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Speaking to Reuters with his face concealed under a headdress, the artist said his works were memes to draw attention to particular issues or phenomenon.

"The graffiti that I do is meme stuff. So let's say Trump behind me, everything that he does, no matter what, will get turned into a meme on both sides of the spectrum, like political spectrum. So for this one I jut took one of the tweets he posted and painted it on the wall in my way," he said.

Trump and Netanyahu Share an Intimate Kiss on West Bank Wall Mural

The Bethlehem wall has become a showcase of protest art voicing Palestinians' fears that Israel's West Bank fence-and-concrete barrier is a land grab that may deny them a state. Israelis deem the project a bulwark against Palestinian attack.

An Australian graffiti artist works on his mural depicting U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the controversial Israeli barrier in the West Bank city of Bethlehem October 28, 2017. Picture taken October 28, 2017.
AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS

"I think the situation here for centuries has been all over the place. Unfortunately it doesn't look like it's going away anytime soon, but it is sad the individuals here that obviously are stuck in an indoor prison," said Lushsux, who was invited to the region by the Palestinians.

Lushsux's giant graffiti, often featuring world leaders and famous celebrities, have become an attraction for both locals and tourists who need to cross the barrier in order to enter Bethlehem from Jerusalem.

German tourist Simeon Engler said it was the size of Lushsux's work that caught his attention.

"It is really something to look at it, you really have the feeing that you have a piece of art in front of you. I really like that," said Engler.

For Bethlehem resident Marwan Shaban, the graffiti symbolises an outcry against "unfairness and persecution".

"What attracts us is that there are a lot of paintings on the wall, especially from some famous artists like Banksy and Lush. They come and deliver messages through this wall to the world, calling to stop unfairness and persecution for this nation. Saying enough to the world leaders not only in America, saying stop being unfair to the Palestinians who live under the worst, the most unfair situation in the world," Shaban said.

Lushsux says each mural takes him from three to four hours to paint, and he prefers to do his work overnight to avoid disruption from spectators.

Other murals on the barrier believed to be the work of Lushsux include one showing Trump kissing an Israeli watchtower and another depicting him placing his hand on the barrier and thinking about building a similar wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.