PM supports road map at Knesset opening session

In a policy speech to the Knesset on Monday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reaffirmed his support for the international "road map" peace plan, said Israel would quickly complete construction of the security barrier and accused Syria and Iran of sponsoring Palestinian terrorists. Sharon's speech opened what is expected to be a stormy winter term in parliament. His government is struggling to secure a majority in parliament, and early elections are seen as likely. The scheduled vote is in November 2006. The prime minister said Israel "will continue to defend itself and hit the perpetrators of terrorism," referring to a suicide bombing last week that killed five Israelis. "We have no choice." He said Israel would also keep building the security fence with "full energy," and without budgetary limitations. Sharon reaffirmed his support for the road map, saying it was the "only plan that gives hope for peace and security for both peoples." The road map envisions a Palestinian state alongside Israel, and Palestinians have accused Sharon of trying to avoid a resumption of peace talks so he won't have to make concessions. In his brief speech, Sharon made no mention of Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip, completed last month.