Analysts say Olmert's predicament likely weighed heavily in Netanyahu's decision.
"Don't pay attention to the media spins, it's not the budget, it's not Romney and it isn't Iran. What is driving Netanyahu to the polling stations at almost hysterical speed is Ehud Olmert," columnist Ben Caspit wrote in Wednesday's Maariv daily.
"He knows that the only one who can give him a real fight, as an equal, with an actual chance, is Olmert," Caspit said. "Netanyahu is a strong prime minister and if he really wanted he could pass a budget. But he doesn't really want to. What he wants is to pre-empt Olmert's comeback, catch his opponents off guard and steal a new term before it's too late."
Despite the call for early elections, most Israelis believe the next government will have the same make-up as the current one, according to a poll published Wednesday.
A Dahaf survey showed that 64 percent of those polled said the next coalition will have the same composition of parties, while 62 percent said the government's policies will also remain unchanged.
The poll surveyed 440 Israelis and had a margin of error of 4.7 percentage points.
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