Israel has rejected a French initiative aimed at restarting peace efforts with the Palestinians, saying direct negotiations are the best way to reach a final agreement between the sides.

Paris is to host an international meeting in May of 20 countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, to discuss the peace process. Israel and the Palestinians have not been invited.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Thursday that "Israel adheres to its position that the best way to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is direct, bilateral negotiations. Israel is ready to begin them immediately without preconditions."

The Palestinians have welcomed the French proposal.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinians peace talks, mediated by the U.S., collapsed in 2014.