Project to explore and develop oil in northern West Bank initiated by Mideast envoy Tony Blair and US Secretary of state John Kerry to help Palestinian economy.

03.18.14, 21:04

The Palestinian Authority has announced plans to explore for oil in the West Bank, throwing a new element of uncertainty into troubled US-backed peace efforts.

Mohammed Mustafa, deputy prime minister for economic affairs, said Tuesday the Palestinians were seeking proposals from international firms to help explore and develop oil in the northern West Bank. However, there was no word on whether Israel has agreed to the plan.

Mustafa told The Associated Press that the project was among a series of initiatives drawn up by Mideast envoy Tony Blair and US Secretary of State John Kerry to help develop the Palestinian economy.

The exploration area covers more than 400 square kilometers (155 square miles), mostly in areas under full Israeli control.

There was no immediate comment from Israel or Blair’s office.,7340,L-4500647,00.html