Striking photos from the occupied West Bank have revealed street artist Banksy’s latest work – a royal “apology” engraved on Israel’s barrier for Britain’s endorsement 100 years ago for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
The inscription from the anonymous street artist was unveiled by an actor dressed as the Queen at a mock tea party for Palestinian children at the artist’s Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem, Reuters reports.
“Er … Sorry”, read the engraving – a double entendre – on the grey Israeli-built wall. ER, standing for Elizabeth Regina, with the Roman numerals II between the two letters, is Queen Elizabeth’s royal cypher.
The reveal came on the eve of the centenary of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, a document which gave the support of the British government for the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”.
Some consider this the moment that sparked the Arab-Israeli conflict.
While Israel views the document, issued by Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, as having opened the way for its creation in 1948, Palestine has demanded an apology from Britain over the declaration, claiming it has led to dispossession and suffering.
Britain has refused to do so.
In a statement read at the unveiling, Banksy said: “This conflict has brought so much suffering to people on all sides, it didn’t feel appropriate to ‘celebrate’ the British role in it.”
According to the Guardian, he added: “The British didn’t handle things well here. When you organise a wedding, it’s best to make sure the bride isn’t already married.”
The graffiti artist said that the work was commissioned from a professional stone carver whose previous credits include Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.
The engraving was made into the Israeli barrier outside Banksy’s West Bank guesthouse, which the artist says has the worst view of any hotel in the world – every room overlooks a walled section of the barrier.
Palestinians see the barrier as a symbol of oppression, while Israel says it is a bulwark against Palestinian attack.