Economy Minister Arye Deryi named Uri Schwartz as acting commissioner of the Antitrust Authority to temporarily replace David Gilo, who is due to step down at the end of the month in protest at the natural gas framework accord.
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Schwartz has served as legal adviser to the authority since 2011, the ministry said on Sunday. Dery said he was appointing Schwartz on an interim basis because a search committee to find a permanent replacement for Gilo is still being set up.
“The commissioner’s departure without anyone replacing him would lead to paralysis the Antitrust Authority and come at a cost to [ensuring] competition and as a result harm consumers,” Dery said.
Some 22 people have expressed interest in the post. Schwartz joined the authority in 2007 and headed teams that examined business concentration in communications, food and retail, three flash-point areas in recent years. In 2011, he became the authority’s legal adviser.
Gilo said in May he would resign after objecting to the terms of the gas framework proposal, which he said didn’t ensure there would enough completion in the natural gas industry to ensure low prices.
Under the agreement reached earlier this month between the government and the cartel of Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Group, they will be able to maintain control of the Leviathan field, Israel’s biggest. Noble will have to sell down its stake in the Tamar field and Delek will have to divest it, but the two have up to six years to act.
Gilo set off the controversy over the cartel at the end of last year when he rescinded an earlier ruling allowing the cartel to continue, and ruled that Noble and Delek may constitute a monopoly given their control of both Tamar and Leviathan.
Dery is being asked to override Gilo’s decision, which he is allowed to do as economy minister. The framework is awaiting Knesset approval next month before he will do that.