The work was unveiled on the eve of Thursday's
centenary of the Balfour Declaration at a mock tea party for
Palestinian children at the artist's Walled Off hotel that
opened last march in the town of Bethlehem.
Israel views the document, issued in 1917 by British foreign
minister Arthur Balfour, as having opened the way for its
creation in 1948. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to
London to attend a celebratory banquet with British leaders.
Palestinian have demanded Britain apologize for a declaration
they see as having led to dispossession and suffering. It has
refused to do so.
"Er ... Sorry", read the inscription, a double entendre, on the
gray Israeli-built wall. ER, standing for Elizabeth Regina, with
the Roman numerals II between the two letters, is Queen
Elizabeth's royal cipher.
The point was hammered home at the event by having an actor
dressed as the monarch pulling back a red curtain that covered
the etching. A statement issued by Banksy said the work was
commissioned from a professional stone carver whose previous
credits include Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.
"This conflict has brought so much suffering to people on all
sides, it didn't feel appropriate to 'celebrate' the British
role in it," the statement said.
Banksy, whose real name is not known, has described his
guesthouse as having the worst view of any hotel in the world:
every room overlooks a walled section of the Israeli barrier
that cuts through the West Bank.
Palestinians see the barrier as a symbol of oppression. Israel
says it is a bulwark against Palestinian attack.
(Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)
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