When the Israelis occupied the West Bank in 1967, they held a census of all residents. Anyone who lived in the West Bank would get a green ID card and anyone who lived in East Jerusalem would get a blue ID card and ‘permanent resident’ status. Anyone who wasn’t there at the right time, too bad.
Abla fell into that category. Born in Jerusalem, she was studying at a university in the United States when the occupation started, so she was not there when the census was taken. She became stateless.
She applied for ‘permanent resident’ status but was refused, despite the fact that her home and her parents were in Jerusalem and she had lived there until she went to university.
She applied again and was refused again.
Every year she comes to Jerusalem to see her mother. Like every other non-resident, she has to apply for a three-month tourist visa. Every year they ask her the same question at the airport: “Why are you coming to Israel?”
Every year she gives the same reply: “I want to help my mother. I want to see my family.”