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State Dept Backpedals on Turkey's Anti-Israel Comments After Pressure From AP Reporter

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Meanwhile, Erdogan upped the ante Tuesday, saying Israel is engaged in "ethnic cleansing."

(Source: AP)

(Source: AP)

After Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan called Israel a "terrorist state" engaged in "ethnic cleansing," the White House remained deafeningly silent until it finally succumbed to pressure placed on the State Department's spokeswoman by the Associated Press’ Matt Lee.

“How do you — this whole thing of saying nothing, I’m not sure I understand why you think that that’s helpful to the situation. You say that it would not be helpful for you to discuss any of your conversations, that quiet diplomacy is the way to de-escalate that. Well, you’ve been doing your quiet diplomacy now for almost a week. How’s it going so far?” Lee pressed during an exchange with State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland during a Monday press briefing.

We are working hard with the parties. We’re working hard with –” she began to reply.

Hasn’t it occurred to anybody that maybe being less quiet might get more results, though? Squeaky wheel gets grease, that kind of thing?”

Now, the administration is backpedaling and on Tuesday condemned Turkey for its comments. Lee's update is featured below.

WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) The Obama administration is criticizing its NATO ally Turkey for "extremely harsh" rhetoric in accusing Israel of terrorism in its current military operations in Gaza.

The State Department said Tuesday that such language is "not helpful" to efforts to end the conflict there. Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that message had been delivered to Turkish officials within the past 24 hours.

Turkey's prime minister has accused Israel's leaders of trying to eliminate the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip through ethnic cleansing and terrorism. Israel says its actions are aimed at halting rocket attacks into Israeli territory from Gaza by Hamas militants and other groups.

Nuland spoke as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was heading to the Mideast while violence raged even as cease-fire talks were under way in Egypt.

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