Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin earlier this week instructed a deputy suspected of improperly aiding the promotion of a female employee with whom he had had a romantic relationship to take a leave of absence from the service. According to a report by Channel 10, K., the head of the Shin Bet's Israel and foreigners department, is also believed to have chaired an internal disciplinary panel that deliberated over an incident involving the woman's ex-husband (also a Shin Bet employee ) without recusing himself due to a conflict of interest.

K. had until recently served as the head of the Shin Bet's headquarters branch, a position that is considered the third most important in the service. He then moved to head the Israel and foreigners department, also known as the "Non-Arab" branch (which is also responsible for the Jewish Division ).

Despite his senior position, he was never considered a serious candidate to succeed Diskin as Shin Bet chief. Earlier this year the government resolved to extend Diskin's term to a sixth year.

K. is not suspected of sexual harassment nor is he accused of using his position of authority to sexually exploit the woman since the woman is not subordinate to him.

A few weeks ago, the ex-husband filed a complaint with the Civil Service Commission, alleging that K. had helped his ex-wife secure a promotion without disclosing the nature of their relationship. The ex-husband, who works in the Shin Bet as an intelligence coordinator, informed the commission that he was subject to a disciplinary hearing before an internal committee headed by K., which could pose a conflict of interest.

The ex-husband, who is regarded throughout the service as a dedicated employee, was suspended by the panel for an unspecified violation for over a year. In his complaint to the commission, he cast doubt on K.'s motive for the panel's decision to opt for a suspension.

The commission, in turn, passed the case along to the Shin Bet ombudsman. Yet Diskin decided to hand the matter back to the commission due to the seriousness of the allegations as well as K.'s senior position in the service. The Shin Bet chief acted on recommendations submitted by the commission's disciplinary department which studied the case. Diskin then ordered K. to take a vacation that is expected to last two weeks.

During K.'s leave, the Shin Bet will mull possible penalties; he will likely be suspended during the commission's probe. If the allegations against K. hold water, there is a high probability that he will not be permitted to return to his post.

The Shin Bet confirmed the details of the case to Haaretz. The service issued a response to the story, saying: "The head of the Israel and foreigners department has recently been put on leave and the Civil Service Commission is considering suspension and other possible disciplinary measures."