Israel and Syria Exchange War Prisoners Following Armistice Pact; Hope for Peace Seen

An exchange of all war prisoners began today between Israel and Syria following the signing of the armistice pact yesterday between the two countries.

Thirty-two Israelis, including two women, who had been held in Syria as prisoners of war were brought today to the border and turned over to the Israeli authorities. They were blindfolded with handkerchiefs by the Syrian military authorities for security reasons. Sixty Syrian war prisoners held by Israel will be brought to day to the Syrian frontier for return to their homes.

Most Israeli Government officials were hopeful today that signing of the armistice agreement with Syria will speed up the final peace treaties with the Arab states.

The Syrian agreement is interpreted as implying acceptance and recognition of the existence of Israel by all its Arab neighbors. This feeling exists despite the provision in the Syrian armistice pact, which is not in any of the other three, that “arrangements for the armistice demarcation line are not to be interpreted as having any relation whatsoever to ultimate territorial agreements.”

In any case, the boundaries set forth in all four armistice agreements enjoy international sanction of one kind or another. Accordingly, it is felt here that the agreements represent a means of transition from armistice to final peace. The United Nations Palestine Conciliation Commission now resuming its sessions at Lausanne may be able to use them effectively to facilitate a permanent peace settlement, it is believed here.

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