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Artist to open hotel in Bethlehem with terrible views

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Banksy hopes his unique lodging in the West Bank will bring visitors and dialogue

If you’re claustrophobic, you may never want to stay in a place called “The Walled Off Hotel,” but if you want to learn more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it may be one of the most unique and interesting ways to do it.

Standing beside the controversial barrier wall separating Israel from the Palestinian territories, this new lodging in Bethlehem is a hotel, an art gallery, and a museum. Owned by street artist Banksy, an England-based graffiti artist, film director, and political activist who prefers anonymity, the 10-room hotel is designed to evoke conversation, exploration, and social and political awareness.

An article in the Guardian describes what the unique hotel is like inside. All the rooms, which only get 25 minutes of direct sunlight a day, look out onto the tall concrete barrier wall, and a few have the view of an Israeli settlement on a hillside.

“Walls are hot right now, but I was into them long before [Donald] Trump made it cool,” said Banksy in a statement to the Guardian.

Banksy arrived in Bethlehem over 10 years ago and left paintings on the barrier wall which are now popular among tourists who visit the area. Guests are now few and far between in the town, given tighter Israeli controls on travel between Israel and Palestine and the economic hardships there. But Banksy says he hopes the hotel will help to change that.

According to the article, hotel staff say they hope the hotel facilitates greater understanding about the realities on the ground in Bethlehem. Even though the hotel site is officially under Israeli military control (so citizens could technically stay there), all roads to reach it involve illegally venturing through Palestinian-controlled territory.

The guests who do make it will find interesting art work all around the hotel, including some of Banksy’s work. The hotel also houses an art gallery to show the work of Palestinian artists.

The Walled-Off Hotel officially opens on March 20 and despite the challenges guests may face getting there, it’s expected to be a popular destination.

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