Awad al-Qarni, a prominent Saudi cleric is paying no less than $100,000 to any Palestinian who kidnaps an Israeli soldier.

He said that he had made the offer in response to a similar reward promised by an Israeli family for anyone who catches the person who killed one of its loved ones in 1998, apropos to the exchange this month of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

On his Facebook page, Qarni wrote:

“The media reported the news of the Zionist occupiers paying a huge sum to anyone who killed the freed Palestinian prisoners‚Ķ In response to those criminals, I announce to the world that I am committed to pay a $100,000 prize to any Palestinian inside Palestine who takes an Israeli soldier captive to exchange with (remaining) prisoners.”

Qarni told Al Arabiya television:

“We have also received letters from … groups from Arab countries. So the issue is not limited to Qarni, who was just the person who launched this initiative‚Ķ”

Saudi Arabia, where the prophet Mohammed hails from, considers itself a defender of Palestinian rights, however, Saudi leaders have been at pains to curb increasingly radical statements by other Muslim clerics regarding the Middle East conflict.

Back in 2002, the Western-allied kingdom began a peace initiative demanding Arab recognition of Israel if Israel will give up all of the land which it occupied during the war in 1967 and Israel decides to accept a solution for Palestinian refugees.

Meanwhile, Saudi Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz‘s long-expected passing at age 87 in New York on Saturday could not have happened at a worse time for his presumed successor, Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz, to take the throne after King Abdullah.

The Saudi kingdom uses a 60-year old succession system that has thus far proven a smooth transition of power.