MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud Beytenu) was officially sworn in on Monday as a member of the 19th Knesset.
Shama-Hacohen replaces Reuven Rivlin, who was elected last week as the next president of Israel. He served as an MK on behalf of the Likud in the 18th Knesset, in which he served as Deputy Knesset Speaker and chairman of the Economics Committee.
"I planned to give a speech about the things for which I intend to fight, but due to the spirit of the times, statements regarding ideology are not appropriate now," he said upon being sworn in, referring to the abduction of three yeshiva students by terrorists.
“I will note, however, that I intend to do my best to fight for the things for which I believe,” added Shama-Hacohen.
Upon finding out last week that he would return to the Knesset to replace Rivlin, Shama-Hacohen said that he intended to focus on the weaker layers of society and on housing prices.
"I don't feel comfortable with the position that the Likud has taken," he said, adding, "Rather than every hill in Judea and Samaria, I'm more interested in the price of housing and the weaker (economic) layers.”
As an MK in 2012, Shama-Hacohen famously found himself seated right by former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Brazil during the Earth Summit.
He was unimpressed. “From up close, he looks more like a man who would sell roasted sunflower seeds than the leader of a nuclear program,” he said, adding, “Maybe that’s the danger.”
Shama-Hacohen was employing a pun on the Hebrew words for "sunflower seeds" (garinim) and "nuclear" (garini), which are almost identical.