A senior Palestinian source told Ynet that Israel knew that the Jericho prison operation could seriously harm Abbas in the court of Palestinian public opinion, and make it harder for him to handle diplomatic negotiations with Israel.
The Authority is worried that opponents of Abbas will claim that Israel is not upholding agreements with the PA.
They claimed that the military operation to capture the murderers of Minister Rehavam Zeevi is a violation of an agreement between the two sides. The source adds that Palestinians feel that comments by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who said that Abbas is no longer relevant, were proved on Tuesday.
Jericho prison following raid (Photo: Reuters)
"Israel knew that this operation will harm Abbas' stance and in actuality it will weaken him further. Some Palestinian voices partially blaming him for what happened have already been heard," the source said.
"The stances of Israel and Olmert on the creation of permanent borders unilaterally, and Olmert's declaration that negotiations on this issue will be held with the United States, and not with the PA, create a situation in which Abbas is no longer relevant," he added.
'Throwing Abbas into Hamas' bosom'
The source went on to say that Israel knowingly chose Hamas as a strategic partner for the coming years, thereby creating a situation that will make the organization stronger at the expense of Abbas.
"Israel is throwing Abbas into Hamas' bosom," warned the source, adding: "Or alternatively, it is creating a situation in which Abbas will ask to retire, something that will cause the PA to fall apart."
"Israel knows well that what separates Abbas and Hamas is Abbas' determination to reach a mutual permanent agreement. Compared to him, Hamas is openly declaring that they aspire to establish Palestinian sovereignty on every part vacated by Israel, while the flame of the conflict has not disappeared," the source argued.
"If Olmert and Kadima are thinking only of elections, then it is clear that from their perspective this was a short-term consideration. Like the intifada that brought down Barak, the next round of conflict will bring Olmert down. It's not clear that he will succeed in creating Israel's permanent borders as he desires," the Palestinian source warned.
In the meantime, Palestinian gunmen released the three foreign journalists, two of them French and one South Korean, who were kidnapped Tuesday in the Gaza Strip.
The European Union called for an end to attacks targeting EU offices and citizens in the Palestinian territories.
"We appeal in the strongest terms that no form of violence be used against EU offices, member state offices or our citizens," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told the European Parliament, where Abbas had been due to speak.
"Nobody has helped the Palestinian people more than the EU. The EU has been, and wishes to continue to be, a donor to the Palestinian people," Barroso told the chamber.
Reuters contributed to the report