Amos Gilad
Amos Gilad Israel news photo: Flash 90

A senior Israeli official said Friday that defense ties with the United States would remain "intensive" despite a deepening rift between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

"The picture is clear - security relations are extremely strong," the defense ministry's strategic affairs director Amos Gilad told Israel public radio, hours after a frosty Thursday night phone conversation in which Obama congratulated Netanyahu two days after elections, reports AFP.

"Defense relations continue full strength. Everything concerning the security dialogue is deep, broad and intensive," Gilad said. "These ties will continue and are continuing."

The White House threatened on Thursday that it might withdraw crucial diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, where the Palestinian Authority (PA) has pledged to step up a campaign pushing for international recognition as a state, a unilateral move that breaches the 1993 Oslo Accords which formed the PA.

Netanyahu said before elections that if he was elected a Palestinian state would not be established - a stance he quickly distanced from after the elections, and on election day called for right-wing voters to turn out, warning Arab Israelis were being bused out to vote en masse by foreign funded anti-Netanyahu NGOs - including those Obama is being investigated by the Senate for possibly having funded.

Obama said the US would "reassess" its policies in the light of the Israeli leader's campaign remarks.

"I don't know what they mean by that expression," Gilad said in response to Obama's veiled threats. "The picture is not yet clear. We have to see what they mean."