Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is not as weak as he claims to be but is trying to put on a facade of weakness to avoid taking action against the terror organizations and to pressure Israel into efforts to bolster his regime, the heads of the defense establishment reported yesterday to the security-political cabinet.

The defense establishment officials did, however, point out a certain weakening on the part of Abbas, coupled with the strengthening of Hamas, due to the PA chairman shying away from taking the necessary decisions.

Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin told the ministers of a public opinion survey conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research in Ramallah, headed by pollster Dr. Khalil Shikaki, in which Abbas won support from 65 percent of the respondents. "Not many leaders around the world have such support," Diskin commented.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the cabinet of his meeting with Abbas last week. "I said to him, `The terror organizations are a threat to you and to us, and therefore we must work together, and we have to know that you are prepared to do this,'" Sharon said.

As an example, Sharon cited Israel's demand that the PA arrest the individual who recruited the would-be suicide bomber arrested at the Erez crossing last week, noting, "They didn't do a thing."

With security forces numbering some 70,000 members at his disposal, "[Abbas] can take action against the terror," said Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.

Mossad chief Meir Dagan reported to the security-political cabinet on Syrian President Bashar Assad, noting that his regime had weakened in the wake of the Syrian forces' withdrawal from Lebanon and the internal criticism he had come under. Dagan also reported that Hezbollah had no intentions of disarming and was continuing its military preparations.

The intelligence chiefs told the ministers that they did not expect any change in Iranian foreign policy in the wake of the elections there because the country was still ruled by spiritual leader Ali Khamenei.