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Page last updated at 14:13 GMT, Thursday, 25 September 2008 15:13 UK

Menu written on West Bank barrier

Bahamas fish restaurant menu in Bethlehem, West Bank
Tourists can now choose their meal by looking at the wall

A restaurant owner in the Palestinian town of Bethlehem has come up with a novel use for the Israeli-built concrete wall that passes his premises.

Tourists and locals alike can now choose their meals from a menu painted on to the West Bank barrier.

Bahamas seafood restaurant has recently reopened, after closing due to lack of business in recent years.

Israel says the barrier - part fence and part wall - is for security, but Palestinians see it as a land grab.

Bethlehem residents also say that the barrier has strangled the town economically, and discouraged tourists from staying in the reputed birthplace of Jesus Christ.

"They put up this wall thinking they can suffocate us, but we are not going to suffocate - we are determined to make something nice out of this," said restaurant owner Charlie Butto.

Charlie Butto looking at security barrier from his restaurant in Bethlehem
The restaurant looks directly onto the wall

He has also added a veranda to his premises and named it the Wall Lounge.

"There are now lots of tourists who come and take pictures of the wall and they can sit have a drink. So when someone want to order something they can do it off the wall," said Mr Butto.

He says the restaurant has been closed since the Palestinian uprising - or intifada - broke out in 2000, and business was "devastated" by the building of the barrier.

Israel began building the West Bank barrier in 2002 and says the structure has greatly reduced suicide attacks on civilians in Israel.

The barrier's route has been widely criticised internationally for looping into Palestinian areas around Israeli settlements, rather than following the Green Line, which marks the boundary between Israel and the West Bank.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 that the barrier is illegal where it cuts into the West Bank and called for it to be pulled down.


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