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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 July 2007, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Israeli textbook states Arab view
Yuli Tamir, at a school meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Ms Tamir (right) says both viewpoints need to be shown
The Israeli government has approved a school textbook that for the first time presents the Palestinian denunciation of the creation of Israel in 1948.

The book, to be used only in Israeli Arab schools, notes that Palestinians describe the event as a "catastrophe".

"Both the Israeli and Palestinian versions have to be presented," education minister Yuli Tamir said.

The book was condemned by right-wing politicians but hailed by Arab Israelis who say all schools should use it.

The new textbook notes that "some of the Palestinians were expelled following the War of Independence and that many Arab-owned lands were confiscated", the education ministry said.

Palestinians refer to Israel's creation in 1948 - in which hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled in the wake of the independence war - as "al nakba", or the catastrophe.

They blame the Jewish state for usurping their land.

The new textbook also says Arab leaders rejected a UN partition plan for Palestine to be split into Israeli and Palestinian states, and that Jewish leaders accepted it.

Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman denounced the book on army radio, blaming "the masochism and defeatism of the Israeli left, which constantly seeks to apologise, while we did what we had to".

Former Education Minister Limor Livnat of the right-wing Likud party said the book would encourage Arabs to take up arms against Israel.

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