The sale of Golan Telecom to major cellular company Cellcom has prompted a fierce backlash Wednesday with not only concern from customers but outrage from government officials.
Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) blasted the sale and called on Antitrust Commissioner Uri Schwartz and Communications Ministry Director-General Shlomo Filber to reject Cellcom's acquisition.
"It is clear to all that the approval of the sale of the company to one of the existing [telecommunications] companies would severely harm competition and cause cellular prices to rise again," the former communications minister wrote to the two.
"As someone who has done everything in his power to preserve competition in the market, I ask you not to authorize the purchase."
According to Erdan, if Golan's owners refuse to invest the amount required to adhere to the conditions of the company's tender, the appropriate decision is to "impose large fines, consider taking away the company's license and sell it to a new cellular company just entering the market."
"If it is decided to approve Golan Telecom's sale to another operator, I see no reason to permit it to be sold to an existing cellular company willing to pay a large sum of money to remove an aggressive competitor," Erdan added.
Amir Levy, the Director of the Finance Ministry's Budget Department, also noted the ministry's "strong opposition" to the acquisition.
"This is a serious blow to competition," Levy argued. "Golan Telecom received a license and a send-off from the state in order to work independently. It's not worth it to sell to Cellcom."