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The southern town of Netivot has never seen anything like it - a religious figure known as the "X-ray rabbi" and a femme fatale honey trap caught in a web of intrigue involving lust, blackmail and a lot of money.

Police suspect the city comptroller, at the behest of a rival kabbalist rabbi, of helping arrange for the young woman to seduce the popular Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Ifergan and film the encounter.

The municipal comptroller Shimon Alon, a confidant of kabbalist Baba Baruch, is suspected of sending a young woman to seduce Ifergan and photograph him in intimate positions, apparently with the aim of embarrassing him publicly and tarnishing his image.

Alon allegedly offered to pay her NIS 100,000 for trapping Ifergan, and tens of thousands of shekels for trapping another local rabbi in a similar fashion.

The woman allegedly went to Ifergan and told him of Alon's plot. She was given recording equipment and recorded her conversations with Alon, in which he allegedly instructed her to photograph Ifergan touching her bosom and other bodily parts. She subsequently brought the recordings to the police.

Alon is also allegedly recorded negotiating with the woman over the sum of money she was to receive for the seduction.

Police called Alon in for questioning about 10 days ago and showed him transcripts of his recorded conversations with the woman. Alon denied the suspicions and told police he was the victim of a plot. He said the woman had been sent to lure him into temptation and tried to persuade him to act against the rabbis.

Ifergan, popularly known as the "X-ray rabbi" for his reported powers of medical diagnosis, is one of the most influential spiritual advisers in the country.

He is well-connected to politicians, real-estate tycoons and businessmen who come to see him before making any major moves. Politicians of several parties consult with him ahead of primary and Knesset elections.

His arch rival is the Baba Baruch, and the two compete over followers and financial resources.

Sources close to Ifergan refused to comment.