France's Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Friday that the aim of the French conference is to get Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table by the end of the year.
France's president said that spiralling Middle East upheaval since the collapse of the round of Israel-Palestinian peace talks has complicated the process and makes it even more urgent bring the two sides back to the table.
With US efforts to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace in deep freeze for two years and Washington focused on its November presidential election, France lobbied for an international conference that began on Friday with the aim of breaking the apathy over the impasse and stir new diplomatic momentum.
While Palestinians have supported the French initiative, Israeli officials have said it is doomed to fail and that only direct negotiations can lead to a solution to the generations-old conflict.
Neither Israel nor the Palestinians have been invited to the conference, though the objective is to get them to negotiate after the US elections.