Israelis With Spanish Citizenship Could Be Exempt From Draft

IDF order is response to Spanish law barring service in foreign army

David Bachar

Israeli citizens who also hold Spanish citizenship may decline to serve in the Israel Defense Forces without facing punishment.

According to an internal directive of the army’s personnel directorate that was renewed in January 2013, a prospective draftee who holds dual Israeli and Spanish citizenship who registers an objection to conscription has the right to avoid compulsory IDF service because Spanish citizens are prohibited from joining a foreign army.

Army officials noted that dual Spanish-Israeli citizens or Spanish nationals who are permanent residents of Israel who serve in the IDF risk loss of their Spanish citizenship and prosecution under Spanish law, in the event the authorities of that state find out about their service.

The IDF has prospective draftees with Spanish citizenship sign a statement saying they recognize that they could lose their Spanish citizenship if they serve in the IDF.

Draft-age teens with dual Israeli and Spanish citizenship may ask to defer their conscription by submitting a personal request to the commander of the enlistment center.

The commander is authorized to approve a deferral of up to 24 months, according to the order issued by the personnel directorate. The text of the order appears (in Hebrew only) on www.army.co.il, a website operated by a law firm. After this period, draft candidates can submit repeated referral requests, until receiving an exemption from military service.

Very few dual Spanish-Israeli citizens request a deferral, according to IDF officials.

Israelis with citizenship of other European states may also face complications if they join the IDF. Israelis with German citizenship, for example, must obtain permission from German authorities before signing up for career service or any service beyond the period of compulsory service.

Before France revoked compulsory military service, in the 1990s, its citizens with dual citizenship could be conscripted into the French army. An IDF order from 1979 allowed Israelis with French citizenship to serve in the French army, in lieu of IDF service.

In a statement, the IDF Spokesman’s Office said that individuals with dual Israeli and Spanish citizenship may ask to defer their enlistment to the IDF. They are also required to sign a form that outlines the implications their enlistment will have on their Spanish citizenship.