The Palestinians have welcomed France's plan to host a Mideast peace conference in the coming weeks.

The Palestinian prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, told foreign reporters on Monday that after two decades of on-and-off negotiations with Israel, the Palestinians hope the French conference will help bring about new "parameters" for talks.

Hamdallah cited the international community's nuclear agreement with Iran as a possible precedent. "When the international community came together, a peaceful settlement was found for the Iranian issue. Why not for Palestine?" he said.

More than 20 countries are expected to participate in the opening session, which will not include Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel has rejected the initiative, saying direct negotiations are the only way to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.