Upcoming elections in Israel are the main obstacle to making progress toward peace with the Palestinians, Condoleezza Rice said. The U.S. secretary of state, in Israel to press the Israelis and Palestinians to come up with an outline for continued peace efforts, made the comment during a joint news conference Thursday evening with chief Israeli peace negotiator and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Israel is scheduled to hold elections for a new prime minister and Knesset on Feb. 10. “It is our expectation that the Annapolis process has laid groundwork which should make possible the establishment of a Palestinian state when the political circumstances permit,” Rice said. “I think that whatever happens by the end of the year, you’ve got a firm foundation for quickly moving this forward to conclusion.” Rice landed in Israel Thursday afternoon on her eighth visit since last year’s Annapolis peace conference. The Bush administration had been pressing the two sides to reach a peace agreement by the end of the year. Rice also will meet in Israel with lame-duck Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as the Palestinian chief negotiator. She is scheduled to visit Egypt and Jordan in an effort to hold on to the Arab world’s support for the talks.