JERUSALEM (AP) _ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has granted Israel's national oil company preliminary approval to drill for oil in the Golan Heights despite increasing tensions with Syria, a newspaper reported Friday.

The National Oil Company's drilling request was rejected by the previous Israeli government because of concerns over relations with Syria, the Haaretz newspaper said. The Golan Heights were captured by Israel in 1967, and Syria seeks the territory's return in exchange for peace.

Netanyahu spokesman David Bar-Illan said he was unaware of the oil project.

Talks between Israel and Syria were suspended this year, and Israel has expressed concern about Syrian troop movements in southern Lebanon.

The National Oil Company expects the Golan site to yield some 2 million barrels of oil and revenue of about $24 million, Haaretz said.

Haaretz said Netanyahu approved the request without consulting the military.