Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has arrived in Israel where he begins a tour of the Middle East.
He is visiting Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan ahead of a more controversial visit to Iran in May.
While in the region Lula will throw his country’s growing diplomatic weight behind the Middle East peace process.
Brazil has previously said it will not bow to pressure from the US on the issue of further sanctions against Iran over its nuclear work.
President Lula’s visit comes amid an ongoing US-Israeli row over the announcement of Israeli plans to build 1,600 homes for Jews in East Jerusalem.
A top aide to President Barack Obama, David Axelrod, said on Sunday that the move was an “insult” to the United States and “destructive” to the peace process.
President Lula has said the peace process requires “someone with neutrality” to speak to all sides.