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Political scientist Zeev Sternhell said Israeli politicians are making a big mistake by acting as if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the country’s burning problem.

His logic — increasingly dominant among Israelis on the center-left — was primarily demographic: If a Palestinian state isn’t set up soon, Israel will find itself ruling a Palestinian population that is larger than its Jewish one — and the existence of Palestinian autonomy zones set up in the 1990s will not be enough for a true separation.

“If we don’t partition, we will have an apartheid state or a binational state,” Mr. Sternhell said. “That’s not what Zionism set out to do.”