The weapons were delivered to security forces, whose Gaza colleagues were routed by Hamas forces last month, under strict confidence to prevent any possible leak that could undermine Abbas's standing, the paper said.

This year, several thousand rifles were delivered from Egypt and Jordan to Fatah forces in Gaza and the West Bank, but most have fallen into the hands of Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since mid-June, Haaretz said.

Bush deadline

Meanwhile, Abbas has said that George Bush, the US president, wants an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal before he ends his term of office.

Abbas was quoted as saying in an interview with the Maariv newspaper "The Americans are determined to push the parties into reaching  an arrangement during President Bush's current term."

"I heard this in person from the president himself and from Secretary of State [Condoleezza] Rice. They want to reach an arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians in the coming year," he said.

Bush will leave office in January 2009.