This comes after Mr Abbas ordered his security forces along the Gaza border with Israel to prevent anti-Israeli attacks.

“We are according Abu Mazen (Abbas) a limited delay to let him decide whether to fight against terrorism,” said a source close to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on condition of anonymity.

“If he does not change the rules of the game, then the Palestinians will pay an enormous price.”

Mr Abbas issued orders on Monday to his security services to prevent attacks by militant groups such as Hamas.

He is due to hold talks in Gaza City on Wednesday with leaders of the factions, hoping to persuade them to agree to a new ceasefire.

He also ordered an official investigation into last week’s suicide bomb attack on a border crossing, which saw Israel sever ties with the Palestinian Authority.

The official said Mr Abbas could decide to deploy “30,000 armed men in the areas of the Gaza Strip where the terrorists fire rockets and mortar shells against Israeli territory or the settlements”.

Palestinian security sources said they received orders from Mr Abbas for “intensive” deployments of security forces around the border crossings in Gaza into Israel.

Israel has described the measure as a small step but not enough to persuade them to resume ties with the Palestinian Authority.

The aide to Mr Sharon said that if Mr Abbas does crack down, Israel will be prepared to coordinate its plan to withdraw troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip later this year with the Palestinian Authority.

Last week’s attack that killed six Israeli soldiers was claimed by three radical Palestinian groups, including the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, an armed offshoot of Mr Abbas’ own Fatah organisation.

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