Thus, with the Gaza Disengagement Plan, the Palestinian quest for minimal justice in the form of a state in 22 per cent of their homeland, once dismissed as utopian, is now derided as short-sighted and selfish. The asymmetries between occupier and occupied are not only sanctioned, but their institutionalisation is seen as progress. Like its predecessors, the Disengagement Plan is hailed as an act of courage, as yet another example of Israel’s desire for peace, of its willingness to make concessions and sacrifices without demanding equivalent concessions of the Palestinians, who are the real aggressors, repeatedly refusing Israeli generosity.
The Palestinian compromise of 1988 – when they conceded 78 per cent of the country, where they had once constituted two-thirds of the population and owned all but 7 per cent of the land, in order to settle for a state in the West Bank and Gaza – is rejected (if remembered at all) as a legitimate point of departure. Rather, the Palestinians are supposed to begin negotiations at whatever point Israel (backed by the US) says they should, a point that alters in line with the diminished realities Israel has imposed on them. The result of Israel’s ever shrinking ‘offers’ is that compromise becomes increasingly difficult, if not impossible, and Palestinian violence more likely. With the Gaza Disengagement Plan, Israel’s generous offer has gone from a weak, cantonised entity in the West Bank and Gaza to the encircled and desperately impoverished enclave of the Gaza Strip – 1 per cent of historical Palestine. The disengagement from Gaza (while encircling it and absorbing the West Bank) is the most extreme illustration to date of Israel’s power to determine and reduce what there is left to talk about.