Banksy opens dystopian West Bank hotel

Elusive British street artist Banksy has opened a hotel in Bethlehem as an art installation, protest and - yes - as place for visitors to stay.

Each of its nine rooms overlook the wall the Israeli government built within and around the occupied West Bank.

Though the venture seems to make a strong statement, Banksy says the hotel offers "a warm welcome to everyone from all sides of the conflict and across the world". "We say more Banksy tourists than Jesus tourists".

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Set to open its doors to guests on March 20, the hotel team wants Israelis to see the wall up close.

"It's exactly one hundred years since Britain took control of Palestine and started re-arranging the furniture - with chaotic results", Banksy said.

The hotel features a presidential suite, a museum with the artist's work, a themed bar and interactive exhibits. In the lobby, a classical bust statue is choked by a cloud of tear gas.

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The Walled Off Hotel used to be a pottery workshop.

A number of Banksy works have appeared on the barrier between the territories in the past. They included a ladder reaching over the wall, a young girl being carried over it by balloons and a window on the gray concrete showing lovely mountains in the background.In 2007, he painted a number of artworks in Bethlehem, including a young girl frisking an Israeli soldier pinned up against a wall.

It adds that absolutely no fanaticism will be allowed on the premises. The barrier, which Palestinians consider to be a land grab that stifles their movement, is heavily decorated by artists and Banksy has previously painted several murals on a walled segment of it. In 2009, he launched the "StreetArtNews" website to promote underground art, which widened his scope to work with a larger roster of street artists on events and exhibitions.

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Alongside its promotion for special events at the hotel, Banksy's website quotes the writer Aldous Huxley: "To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries".