U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers her speech during the Conference on Security Policy in Munich, Feb. 5, 2011. Photo by AP
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The United States is concerned about tensions between Israel and Turkey and Ankara’s threats to slap additional sanctions on Israel, and is endeavoring to mend fences between the two parties, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said Tuesday.

The spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, also praised the United Nations report on the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident, the event that most contributed to the rift between Israel and Turkey.

Nuland said that U.S. Secretary of State Clinton and the U.S. Ambassador in Ankara recently met at length with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to try to diffuse the tensions.

The comments from the U.S. State Department follow days of increased tension between Israel and Turkey, both strategic allies of the U.S. that enjoyed a decades-long convivial relationship until recent years.

After the contents of a UN report on the Gaza flotilla and the loss of life that resulted from it, the Palmer Report, were leaked to the press, Turkey downgraded relations with Israel to the rank of only second secretary, formally expelling the Israeli Ambassador to Ankara.

On Monday, Israeli tourists were reportedly treated with contempt by Turkish airport officials, supposedly in response to humiliation meted out to Turkish tourists to Israel.

"We are concerned", said Nuland. "We have over many months tried to work with our ally Turkey and our ally Israel to strengthen and improve their bilateral relationship. We still believe that getting back to a good partnership between them is in each of their interests, and we will continue to work for that goal with both of them.”

“There are freedom of navigation issues for both Turkey and for Israel, but we want to avoid future confrontations and we want both of these strong allies of the United States to get back to a place where they have a good working relationship with each other".

Nuland added that the United States appreciates the publication of the Palmer Report. “We particularly note some of the recommendations at the end of the report with regard to how similar situations could be avoided in the future,” Nuland said, “and we call on all relevant parties to take note of those and to use them well.”

Senior U.S. officials Dennis Ross and David Hales are meeting Israeli and Palestinian leaders this week in a bid to avert a diplomatic crisis over the Palestinians' UN membership later this month, Nuland said on Tuesday.

She called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to “receive them and hear them with open ears and to continue to work hard with us to avoid a negative scenario in New York at the end of the month".

"We are going to continue to work right up till the UN General Assembly if necessary to get these parties back to the table, and we'll continue to work afterwards", she said. "That is where we are focused, and we will continue to oppose any one-sided actions at the UN. We are making that clear to both sides. We're going to use every day, every hour, every venue to try to get these parties back to the table".

Nuland also expressed concern over the Turkish decision to campaign for recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN, saying "of course it's a matter of concern, our position is well known. We think that taking action at the UN in September is not going to lead to lasting peace, two states side by side; only negotiations can do that”