[reuters] The Palestinian Authority is trying to stop Palestinians using Israeli mobile phone cards sold illegally in the West Bank, a practice which it says robs domestic operators of $100 million annually.
"Any store or place or company or dealer caught (selling Israeli sim cards) will be prosecuted," Telecommunications Minister Mashour Abu Daqqa told reporters.
The Ministry says Israel's four mobile phone operators have a market share of 12 percent in the West Bank although they do not pay license fees or taxes to the Palestinian Authority.
The four companies, Cellcom Israel, Partner, Pelephone and MIRS, are effectively competing unfairly with local Palestinian operators Wataniya Palestine and Jawwal, it says.
Israel, which occupied the West Bank in a 1967 war, controls the airwaves of the territory, home to 2.5 million Palestinians. The West Bank is also home to some 300,000 Israelis living in settlements that rely on Israeli phone networks.
The move poses no threat to Israeli mobile transmitter masts installed in the West Bank under Israeli army control.
Abu Daqqa said Israeli SIM cards were popular with Palestinians partly because of the 3G services they offer.
The Palestinian Authority has asked Israel for a wider spectrum of frequencies that would allow Wataniya and Jawwal to offer 3G services like their Israeli peers. But Israel has so far refused to grant them.
Palestinian Authority to stop use of Israeli mobiles