The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) decided that it will carry forward an oil exploration plan in the West Bank despite Israel's rejections, a senior Palestinian government official said on Wednesday.
Mohamed Mustafa, deputy prime minister and the minister of economy, said the Israeli government sent an official letter to the PNA two days ago, expressing its oppositions against any unilateral Palestinian actions concerning oil exploration.
He told Xinhua that Palestine's decision is in line with the Oslo peace accords signed in 1993, which stipulates that the PNA is required to coordinate with Israel only when projects are inaugurated.
"We are still in the state of planning...for the project of oil exploration," he said, adding that "once we are ready, we will follow the needed measures."
The PNA began in March last year to search for oil fields in the West Bank. It has already presented tenders to several international oil companies, while bids are expected to be submitted by the end of June.
In case the project succeeds and oil is produced, this would help end the subordination of the Palestinian economy to Israel " and would help the Palestinians in building an independent and powerful economy," Mustafa said.
Earlier, Palestinian officials accused Israel of seizing a field that contains fuel reserves of around 1.5 billion barrels of oil and 1.82 cubic meters of natural gas to west of Ramallah.
They also said that 80 percent of the field is in the West Bank, where Israel confiscates 800 barrels every day. Israel has not officially responded to the allegations.