The concept from the time of the Camp David negotiations that Palestinians will be allowed to govern themselves, in areas determined by negotiated agreement(s), under the effective supervision of the Israelis, for a specified period, after which there will be a "final status" settlement in which they may be allowed to declare (limited) legal sovereignty under the terms of further negotiated agreement(s). It is the compromise at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo peace process. The idea of autonomy came up seriously for the first time in 1978 during the Camp David negotiations between Israel and Egypt, which, in their second phase, specified that "full autonomy will be accorded for five years to the populations of the West Bank and Gaza. The Israeli military government and its civil administration will cease to exert their functions as soon as autonomous authorities shall have been freely elected by the inhabitants of these regions." Furthermore, it was anticipated that in the three years following the transitional period negotiations would start on the future of the West Bank and Gaza. No text took up the question of the future of Jerusalem.
On 25 May 1979, as required by the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty, Cairo and Tel Aviv began negotiations on West Bank and Gaza Strip autonomy. There was no Palestinian participation in these negotiations. The opposition to the Camp David Accords of the only acknowledged representative Palestinian body, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and the intensification of Israeli colonization of the Occupied Territories, rendered the dialogue futile. In April 1980 Egypt proposed, in vain, that a regime of autonomy first be established in the Gaza Strip. Thirteen years later, on 13 September 1993, in Washington, D.C., Israel and the PLO signed the Declaration of Principles on transitional and partial autonomy for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, excluding Jerusalem. It was specified that the objective of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations would consist, notably, in "establishing an interim Palestinian self-government authority . . . for the Palestinian people in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip for a transitional period not exceeding five years, leading to a permanent settlement based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338." This agreement, known as the Oslo Accords, was followed by an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on the institution of Palestinian autonomy, signed on 4 May 1994, in Cairo.