Israel Antitrust Authority head David Gilo isn’t backing down on his plan to break up the natural gas monopoly, but is interested in avoiding a prolonged and costly legal battle, Globes reports.
Gilo told the Antitrust Authority annual conference on Tuesday that he was sparing no effort to avoid the courts.
“Under the Antitrust Law, it’s possible to reach a draft consent decree in order to try to solve the competition problem arising from an alleged violation of the law. The Antitrust Authority has done its best to reach an out-of-court settlement in order to find a way that will both generate competition in the market and avoid the gas partnership’s threat not to develop the Leviathan reservoir in the event of legal proceedings.
“The legislator instructs us as follows: first check with those who allegedly violated the law whether they agree to the plan you are considering adopting. If they agree to the plan, submit it for public comments. After obtaining comments from the public, study them and consider carefully according to all the current data available at the time whether to submit the plan for court approval.
“We should submit the plan for court approval only if we’re convinced that the draft arrangement achieves the purposes set by the law: preventing harm to competition for the public’s sake. It must be emphasized that this is an exceptional case of unprecedented importance to competition in the economy, and that we received an unusual number of public comments. At the moment of truth, after studying the public’s comments and all the up-to-date data we had accumulated, we reached the conclusion that the responsibility given us by the law didn’t allow us to sign the agreed draft agreement, and didn’t allow us to convince the court to authorize this solution.”
Gilo made it clear that his essential goal remained unchanged: to liquidate the monopoly in the gas market.
“We’ll hold the hearing with the gas partnership [of Delek Group and Noble Energy] on this question, and we’re in constant touch with them. I think that the question that we all have to ask ourselves is how we want such an important market to look in the long term — whether we want a competitive market structure or a permanent monopoly.”