Netanyahu Congratulates Obama on Re-election

Prime minister calls U.S. president after being criticized for alleged interference in U.S. elections; 'This was a vote of confidence in your leadership,' he tells Obama.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on Thursday evening to congratulate him on his victory in Tuesday's election.

"This was a vote of confidence in your leadership," Netanyahu told Obama. "We will continue collectively fighting the challenges faced by both the U.S. and Israel, and promote peace and security in the region."

Earlier on Thursday, the prime minister rejected accusations that he had hurt relations with Washington through his perceived preference for defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

"There are those among us who are trying to cause conflict between us and the United States. They won't get away with it. The alliance with the U.S. is firm," he said at a cornerstone-laying ceremony for a new hospital in the coastal city of Ashdod.

Netanyahu was referring to Ehud Olmert's statements on Wednesday that the prime minister's supposed preference for one of the presidential candidates had damaged ties with Israel's closest ally.

Netanyahu responded on Thursday that "we have a strategic partnership [with the US], we cooperate in all fields, but most of all in security, where the cooperation is deep, wide and firm."