Paul Scholey is part of the first delegation of its kind to include the senior members of Britain’s three major trade unions and hopes the fact-finding trip will give a clearer insight into working life in the troubled region.
As part of the trip they will be briefed by the UN, meet members of Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, and visit unionists and workers’ rights activists in the West Bank.
Mr Scholey, senior partner with Morrish Solicitors, based in Leeds, Bradford, Yeadon and Pudsey, said the Middle East’s problems have been a “constant background” throughout his adult life, and the trip will provide the chance to meet people “in the thick of it”.
“It started off with clients. Working with unions as a solicitor is not just about cases. We’ve always tried to get involved with our union clients’ work in terms of policy and social and political advocacy; and trade union lawyers tend to be sympathetic to those interests, too.
“But the idea of seeing some of what’s going on in the West Bank was never only going to be about working closely with clients.
“Problems in the Middle East have been constant background music, sadly discordant, as a rule, throughout my adult life.
“This is an opportunity to meet people in the thick of it. To talk to workers’ rights activists with almost insurmountable opposition. To see places I’d never see as a tourist.
“We’ll be briefed by the UN. We’ll go off the beaten path to places I’ve only heard of in scary newscasts.
“We’ll talk to some of the players in the region, and I hope to report back on what I’ve seen, rather than to read it in a paper or someone else’s blog.
“It won’t change the world. But if my experiences help inform someone else’s views, that’s enough.
“With enough information, change might happen. And if not, it isn’t time wasted.
“I am prepared to witness and learn, and I am pretty sure I will be surprised, shocked, bemused and outraged by what I see.
“We lawyers are always proud of our ability to see both sides of an argument. I want to test myself against that standard.”