The novel is about a romance between a Jewish woman and a Palestinian man.
The rejection of the novel caused outrage in Israel, with critics accusing the government of censorship, AP reported.
Banning the book has also touched on the feeling of mistrust between Arabs and Jews, which has deepened during the current wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence.
Criticism of the government caused the Education Ministry to back off the ban slightly and Army Radio reported the book could now be read in advanced literature studies classes, but it still can’t be taught as part of the regular school curriculum.
Israeli media said teachers had requested the book to be part of student reading lists and AP reported the ministry had debated about adding it to the curriculum before deciding against it.
Haaretz news quoted a letter by ministry official Dalia Fenig, who said the book, which last year received Israel’s prestigious Bernstein literary prize, was inappropriate for high-schoolers.
“Adolescent youth tend to romanticise and don’t have, in many cases, the systematic point of view that includes considerations about preserving the identity of the nation and the significance of assimilation,” Fenig wrote.
Currently there is a book included in the Israeli school curriculum, ‘A Trumpet in the Wadi’, a story about a love affair between a Jewish man and a Christian Arab woman.
Fenig told Army Radio there didn’t need to be another book on the list that dealt with relationships between Jews and non-Jews.
According to AP, more than three months of Israeli-Palestinian violence has killed 21 people on the Israeli side and 131 Palestinians.
“Should I force Israeli children to read this? Is this a top priority?” he said.
Authors and politicians refuted the book ban with the opposition legislator, Ksenia Svetlova, calling the decision “sickening”.
AP reported some Jews were afraid intermarriage and assimilation, a term used for the gradual weakening of Jewish identity with immersion in Western culture, would threaten the community’s continued survival.
Jews and Arabs hardly intermarry in Israel and the communities often live separately.
Last year, religious Israeli politicians were outraged by news that the son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was dating a non-Jewish Norwegian woman.
Author of ‘Borderlife’, Dorit Rabinyan, told Army Radio the rejection of her book was ironic because “the novel deals precisely with the Israeli fear of assimilation in the Arab milieu within which we exist.”
news.com.au 2 Jan 2016